Habakkuk 1:8

Habakkuk 1:8

Their horses also are swifter than the leopards
Creatures remarkable for their swiftness: these are creatures born of the mating of a he panther and a lioness, and not of a lion and a she panther, as some have affirmed; and which adultery is highly resented by the lion; nor will he suffer it to go unrevenged, as Pliny F21 and Philostratus


FOOTNOTES:

F23 observe: those thus begotten differ from common lions in this, that they have no manes: the panthers are the creatures here meant, which are very swift, as Bochart F24 from various authors has observed. Lucan F25 calls this creature "celerem pardum", t"he swift panther"; and Jerom says
F26 nothing is swifter than the panther; and Aelianus F1 observes that the panther, by the swiftness of its running, will overtake most creatures, and particularly apes; and Eustathius F2 confirms the same, saying that it exceeds other creatures in swiftness, and as it were flies before the eyes of hunters; and Osorius F3 relates, that the king of Portugal once sent to the pope of Rome a panther tamed, which being had into the woods a hunting by a Persian hunter, with wonderful swiftness leaped upon the boars and deer, and killed them at once; and the Septuagint version here is, "their horses will leap above the panthers": or exceed them in leaping, for which these panthers are very famous too: an Arabic writer F4, whom Bochart mentions, says it will leap above forty cubits at a leap. Pliny F5 reports, that the panthers in Africa will get up into thick trees, and hide themselves in the branches, and leap from thence on those that pass by; and because of the swiftness of this creature, with other qualities of it, the third beast or Grecian monarchy, especially in its first head Alexander the great, is represented by it, ( Daniel 7:6 ) he making such a swift and rapid progress in his conquests; and yet the Chaldean horses would exceed them in swiftness, and be very speedy in their march into the land of Judea; and therefore it was in vain for the Jews to please themselves with the thoughts that these people were a great way off, and so they secure from them, when they could and would be upon them presently, ere they were aware: and are more fierce than ravening wolves;
which creatures are naturally fierce, and especially when they are hungry, and particularly at evening; when, having had no food all the day, their appetites are very keen, and they go in quest of their prey; and, when they meet with it, fall upon it with greater eagerness and fierceness. The Septuagint and Arabic versions render it, than the wolves of Arabia; that there are wolves very frequent in Arabia, is observed by Diodorus Siculus {f}, and Strabo F7; but that these are remarkable for their fierceness does not appear; rather those in colder climates are more fierce; so Pliny F8 says, they are little and sluggish in Africa and Egypt, but rough and fierce in cold climates. It is, in the original text, "more sharp" F9; which some interpret of the sharpness of their sight. Aelianus says F11, it is a most quick and sharp sighted creature; and can see in the night season, even though the moon shines not: the reason of which Pliny F12 gives is, because the eyes of wolves are shining, and dart light; hence Aelianus F13 observes, that that time of the night in which the wolf only by nature enjoys the light is called wolf light; and that Homer F14 calls a night which has some glimmering of light, or a sort of twilight, such as the wolves can see themselves walk by, (amfiluch nux) , which is that light that precedes the rising sun; and he also observes that the wolf is sacred to the sun, and to Apollo, which are the same; and there was an image of one at Delphos; and so Macrobias F15 says, that the inhabitants of Lycopolis, a city of Thebais in Egypt, alike worship Apollo and a wolf, and in both the sun, because this animal takes and consumes all things like the sun; and, because perceiving much by the quick sight of its eyes, overcomes the darkness of the night; and observes, that some think they have their name from light, though they would have it be from the morning light; because those creatures especially observe that time for seizing on cattle, after a nights hunger, when before day light they are turned out of the stables into pasture; but it is for the most part at evening, and in the night, that wolves prowl about for their prey {p}; and from whence they have the name of evening wolves, to which the Chaldean horses are here compared: and yet there seems to be an antipathy between these, if what some naturalists F17 say is true; as that if a horse by chance treads in the footsteps of a wolf, a numbness will immediately seize it, yea, even its belly will burst; (This sounds like a fable. Ed.) and that, if the hip bone of a wolf is thrown under horses drawing a chariot full speed, and they tread upon it, they will stop and stand stone still, immovable: whether respect is here had to the quick sight or sharp hunger of these creatures is not easy to say; though rather, since the comparison of them is with horses, it seems to respect the fierceness of them, for which the war horse is famous, ( Job 39:24 ) and may be better understood of the sharpness of the appetite of evening wolves, when hunger bitten: and their horsemen shall spread themselves;
or be multiplied, as the Targum; they shall be many, and spread themselves all over the country, so that there will be no escaping; all will fall into their hands: and their horsemen shall come from far;
as Chaldea was reckoned from Judea, and especially in comparison of neighbouring nations, who used to be troublesome, as Moab, Edom see ( Jeremiah 5:15 ) : they shall flee as the eagle [that] hasteth to eat;
those horsemen shall be so speedy in their march, that they shall seem rather to fly than ride, and even to fly as swift as the eagle, the swiftest of birds, and which itself flies swiftest when hungry, and in sight of its prey; and the rather this bird is mentioned, because used by many nations, as the Persians, and others, for a military sign F18.
F21 Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 16.
F23 De Vita Apollonii, l. 2. c. 7.
F24 Hierozoic. par. 1. l. 3. c. 7. col. 788.
F25 Pharsalia, l. 6.
F26 Comment. in Hos. v. 14. fol. 10. L.
F1 Hist. Animal. l. 8. c. 6.
F2 In Hexaemeron.
F3 De Rebus Portugall. l. 9. apud Frantz. Hist. Animal. Sacr. par. 1. 8. p. 90.
F4 Damir apud Bochart, ut supra. (Hierozoic. par. 1. l. 3. c. 7. col. 788.)
F5 Nat. Hist. l. 10. c. 73.
F6 Bibliothec. l. 3. p. 177.
F7 Geograph. l. 16. p. 534.
F8 Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 22.
F9 (wdxw) "et acuti erunt", Montanus, Cocceius; "et acutiores", Pagninus, Calvin, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Drusius, Grotius; so Ben Melech; "et acuti sunt", Burkius.
F11 De Animal. l. 10. c. 26.
F12 Nat. Hist. l. 11. c. 37.
F13 Ut supra. (De Animal. l. 10. c. 26.)
F14 Iliad. 7. prope finem.
F15 Saturnal. l. 1. c. 17.
F16 "Vesper ubi e pastu vitulos ad tecta reducit, Auditisque lupos acuunt balatibus agni." Virgil. Georgic. l. 4. "Ac veluti pleno lupus insidiatus ovili Nocte super media-----", Ibid. Aeneid. l. 8.
F17 Aelian. de Animal. l. 1. c. 36. Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 28. c. 20.
F18 Vid. Lydium de Re Militari, l. 3. c. 7. p. 87.
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