on Job 16 :15
I have sewed sackcloth - שק sak, a word that has passed into almost all languages, as I have already had occasion to notice in other parts of this work.
Defiled my horn in the dust - The horn was an emblem of power; and the metaphor was originally taken from beasts, such as the urus, wild ox, buffalo, or perhaps the rhinoceros, who were perceived to have so much power in their horns. Hence a horn was frequently worn on crowns and helmets, as is evident on ancient coins; and to this day it is an appendage to the diadem of the kings and chiefs of Abyssinia. In the second edition of Mr. Bruce's Travels in Abyssinia, vol. viii., plates 2 and 3, we have engravings of two chiefs, Kefla Yasous, and Woodage Ashahel, who are represented with this emblem of power on their forehead. Mr. Bruce thus describes it: "One thing remarkable in this cavalcade, which I observed, was the head dress of the governors of provinces. A large broad fillet was bound upon their forehead, and tied behind their head. In the middle of this was a horn, or a conical piece of silver, gilt, about four inches in length, much in the shape of our common candle extinguishers. This is called kirn, or horn; and is only worn in reviews, or parades after victory. This, I apprehend, like all others of their usages is taken from the Hebrews; and the several allusions made in Scripture to it arise from this practice. 'I said unto the fools, Deal not foolishly; and to the wicked, Lift not up the horn.' 'Lift not up your horn on high, speak not with a stiff neck; for promotion cometh not,' etc. 'But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of a unicorn.' 'And the horn of the righteous shall be exalted with honor.' And so in many other places throughout the Psalms." In a note on the same page we have the following observation: "The crooked manner in which they hold their neck when this ornament is on their forehead, for fear it should fall forward, perfectly shows the meaning of 'Speak not with a stiff neck when you hold the horn on high (or erect) like the horn of the unicorn."' - Bruce's Travels, vol. iv., p. 407. Defiling or rolling the horn in the dust, signifies the disgrace or destruction of power, authority, and eminence. Mr. Good translates, I have rolled my turban in the dust, which he endeavors to justify in a long note. But in this, I think, this very learned man is mistaken. The Hebrew קרן keren is the same as the Ethiopic kirn, and both mean exactly, in such connection, what Mr. Bruce has noticed above. The horn on the diadem is the emblem of power, authority, and eminence.
on Job 16 :15
I have sewed sackcloth - I have put on the badges of humiliation and grief; see the notes at Isaiah 3:24. This was the usual emblem of mourning. In order more deeply to express it, or to make it a "permanent" memorial of sorrow, it would seem that it was "sewed" around the body - as we "sew" crape on the hat.
And defiled my horn in the dust - The word rendered "defiled" (from עלל ‛âlal) has, according to Gesenius, the notion of "repetition," derived from the use of the Arabic word. The Arabic means, to drink again, that is, after a former draught; and then, to drink deep. Hence, the word is applied to any action which is repeated - as to the second blow by which one already struck down is killed; to an after-harvest, or to gleaning in the fields. Here Gesenius supposes it means to "maltreat," to "abuse;" and the idea according to him is, that he had covered his whole head in the dust. The word "horn" is used in the Scriptures to denote strength and power. The figure is taken from horned animals, whose strength resides in their horns; and hence, as the horn is the means of defense, the word comes to denote that on which one relies; his strength, honor, dignity. A horn, made of "silver," was also worn as an ornament, or as an emblem, on the forehead of females or warriors.
It was probably used at first by warriors as a symbol of "power, authority," or "strength;" and the idea was undoubtedly derived from the fact that the strength of animals was seen to lie in the horn. Then it came to be a mere ornament, and as such is used still in the vicinity of Mount Lebanon. Oriental customs do not undergo those changes which are so common in the Western world, and it is possible that this custom prevailed in the time of Job. The "horn" was usually worn by females; it is also a part of the ornament on the head of a male, and as such would be regarded doubtless as an emblem of honor. The custom is prevalent at the present day among the Druses of Lebanon, the Egyptian cavalry, and in some parts of Russia bordering on Persia. Dr. Macmichael, in his "Journey," says: "One of the most extraordinary parts of the attire of their females (Drusus of Lebanon), is a silver horn, sometimes studded with jewels, worn on the head in various positions, "distinguishing their different conditions."
A married woman has it affixed to the right side of the head, a widow on the left, and a virgin is pointed out by its being placed on the very crown. Over this silver projection the long veil is thrown, with which they so completely conceal their faces to rarely have more than an eye visible." The horn worn by females is a conical tube, about twelve inches long. Col. Light mentions the horn of the wife of an emir, made of gold, and studded with precious stones. Horns are worn by Abyssinian chiefs in military reviews, or on parade after a victory. They are much shorter than those of the females, and are about the size and shape of a candle extinguisher, fastened by a strong fillet to the head, which is often made of metal; they are not easily broken off. This special kind of horn is undoubtedly the kind made by the false prophet Zedekiah for Ahab, to whom he said, when Ahab was about to attack the enemy, "With these shalt thou push the Syrians, until thou hast conquered them;" 1 Kings 22:11; 2 Chronicles 18:10; compare Deuteronomy 33:17. The idea here is, that whatever once constituted the reliance or the glory of Job, was now completely prostrate. It was as if it were buried in the earth.
on Job 16 :15
16:15 I have - So far am I from stretching out my hand against God, chap.15:25, that I have humbled myself deeply under his hand. I have not only put on sackcloth, but sewed it on, as being resolved to continue my humiliation, as long as my affliction continues. Defiled my horn - I have willingly parted with all my wealth, and power, and glory (as the horn often signifies in scripture,) and been content to lie in the dust.