[blocks in formation]

4. Every newly married man, during the first year after his marriage. The humanity of these exemptions will be the more evident, when it is recollected that, anciently, it was deemed an excessive hardship for a person to be obliged to go to battle (in which there was a probability of his being slain) who had left a new house unfinished, a newly purchased heritage half tilled, or a wife with whom he had just contracted marriage. Homer represents the case of Protesilaus as singularly afflicting, who was obliged to go to the Trojan war, leaving his wife in the deepest distress, and his

house unfinished.'

5. The last exemption was in favour of the fearful and faint hearted; an exemption of such a disgraceful nature, that one would think it never would have been claimed. Such, however, was the case in Gideon's expedition against the Midianites. Ten thousand only remained out of thirtytwo thousand, of which number his army originally consisted; twenty-two thousand having complied with his proclamation, that whosoever was fearful and afraid might return and depart early from Mount Gilead. (Judg. vii. 3.)2

Before the regal government was established, the Israelitish army was entirely disbanded at the conclusion of a war. The earliest instance recorded of any military force being kept in time of peace, is in the reign of Saul, who retained two thousand for his body guard, and one thousand for his son Jonathan's guard. (1 Sam. xiii. 1, 2.) David had a distinct guard, called Cherethites and Pelethites, concerning the origin of whose name various contradictory opinions have been offered. Josephus, however, expressly says, that they were his guards, and the Chaldee paraphrast terms them archers and slingers. Besides these he had twelve bodies of twenty-four thousand men each, who were on duty for one month, forming an aggregate of two hundred and eighty-eight thousand men. (1 Chron. xxvii. 1-15.) Subsequently, when the art of war was improved, a regular force seems to have been kept up both in peace and war; for, exclusive of the vast army which Jehoshaphat had in the field, we read that he had troops throughout all the fenced cities, which doubtless were garrisoned in time of peace as well as during war. III. The OFFICERS who were placed at the head of the Hebrew forces appear not to have differed materially from those whom we find in ancient and modern armies.

The Division of the army into three bands or companies, mentioned in Gen. xiv. 14, 15. Job i. 17. Judg. vii. 16. 20. 1 Sam. xi. 11. and 2 Sam. xviii. 2., was probably no other than the division into the centre, left, and right wing, which obtains in the modern art of war. The Hebrews, when they departed from Egypt, marched in military order, ons (AL TSEBOTOM) by their armies or hosts (Exod. xii. 51.), and Den (ve-CHаMUSHIM), which word in our English Bibles (Exod. xiii. 18.) is rendered harnessed, and in the margin, by five in a rank. It is probable, from these expressions, that they followed each other in ranks fifty deep, and that at the head of each rank or file of fifty was the captain of fifty. (1 Sam. viii. 12. 2 Kings i. 9-14.) The other divisions consisted of tens, hundreds, thousands, &c.; and the officers that commanded them are styled captains of thousands, captains of hundreds, captains of fifties, and captains of tens; of these mention is made in 1 Chron. xii. 14. 20. xiii. 1. xxviii. 1. and 2 Kings i. 9. 11. 13. These, probably, were of the same rank with those whom Moses constituted in the wilderness, rulers of thousands, &c. (Exod. xviii. 25.), and who at first acted in a double capacity, being at the same time civil magistrates and military officers. The captains of thousands seem to have been much the same as colonels of regiments with us; and the captains of hundreds might probably answer to those who in our army have the command of troops and companies; the captains of fifties and tens to our subalterns, sergeants, and corporals. During the Mosaic commonwealth, in conformity to the law in Deut. xx. 9., all these

1 Iliad, lib. ii. 700-702.

2 Michaelis's Commentaries, vol. iii. pp. 34-37.

On this subject the reader may consult the Dissertations of Ikenius, De Crethi et Plethi (Lug. Bat. 1749), and of Lakemacher, Observationes Philologicæ, part ii. pp. 11-44., and also Michaelis's Commentaries on the Law of Moses, § 232.

It is from this circumstance "that the Divine Being calls himself the LORD OF HOSTS, or armies; because the Israelites were brought out of Egypt under his direction, marshalled and ordered by himself, guided by his wisdom, supported by his providence, and protected by his might. the true and simple God is so in Scripture the Lord of Hosts: for the LORD did bring the children of Israel out of Egypt by their armies." Dr. A. Clarke's Commentary, on Exod. xii. 51.

officers were appointed by the Shoterim, genealogists or officers (as they are termed in our version), who probably chose the heads of families; but after the monarchy took place, they received their commissions either from the king in the same manner as at present, as appears from 2 Sam. xviii. 1. and 2 Chron. xxv. 5.; or from the commander-in-chief (2 Sam. xviii. 11.): and it should seem that a captain's commission was denoted by giving a military girdle or sash. (2 Sam. xviii. 11.)

The first and principal Head of the armies of Israel was the Almighty himself, who is so frequently termed in Scripture the Lord of Hosts. The whole nation marched forth under the superintending guidance of their God. Subordinate to Him, and as his lieutenant-general, was the principal officer, or leader of the whole army, who, in the Scriptures, is termed the CAPTAIN OF THE LORD'S HOST, and who appears to have been of the same rank with him who is now called the commander-in-chief of an army. Such were Joshua and the Judges under the primitive constitution of their government as settled by God himself: such was Abner under Saul (2 Sam. ii. 8.), Joab under David (2 Sam. xx. 23.), and Amasa under Absalom, when he was raising a rebellion against his father. (2 Sam. xvii. 25.) The command and authority of this captain of the host appear to have been very great, sometimes indeed, nearly equal to that of the sovereign. David seems to have been afraid of Joab his commander-in-chief; otherwise he would never have suffered him to live after the sanguinary assassinations which he had perpetrated. It is evident that the captain of the host enjoyed great influence in the time of Elisha: for we read, that the prophet having been hospitably entertained by an opulent woman at Shunem, and being desirous of making her some acknowledgment for her kindness, ordered his servant Gehazi to inquire what she would wish to have done for her. Wouldst thou be spoken for to the king, or to the CAPTAIN OF THE HOST? (2 Kings iv. 13.)

After the establishment of the monarchy, the kings went to war in person, and at first fought on foot, like the meanest of their soldiers. Thus David fought, until the danger to which he exposed himself became so great, that his people would no longer allow him to lead them on to battle. (2 Sam. xxi. 17.) It does not appear that there were any horse in the Israefitish army before the time of Solomon. In the time of David there were none; for the rebel Absalom was mounted on a mule in the battle in which he lost his life. (2 Sam. xviii. 9.) Solomon, who had married the daughter of the king of Egypt, procured horses from that country at a great expense (1 Kings x. 28, 29.); and afterwards had four thousand stalls for horses and chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen. (2 Chron. ix. 25.) From Zech. xiv. 20. it should seem, that bells formed a part of the caparison of war-horses. Subsequent kings of Judah and Israel went into the battle in chariots, arrayed in their royal vestments, or sometimes in disguise. They generally had a spare chariot to attend them: thus we read that king Josiah, after he was mortally wounded, was taken out of his war-chariot, and put into another, in which he was carried to Jerusalem. (2 Chron. xxxv. 23, 24. 1 Kings xxii. 34.) Both kings and generals had armourbearers, who were chosen from the bravest of the soldiery, and not only bore the arms of their masters, but were also employed to give his commands to the subordinate captains, and were present at his side in the hour of peril. (i Sam. xiv. 6. xvii. 7.)

Military chariots were much in use among the Egyptians, Canaanites, and other oriental nations. Two sorts are mentioned in the Scriptures; one in which princes and generals rode, the other to break the enemy's battalions by rushing in among them, armed with iron scythes, which caused terrible havoc. The most ancient war-chariots, of which we read, are those of Pharaoh, which were destroyed in the Red Sea (Exod. xiv. 7.): his infantry, cavalry, and war-chariots were so arranged as to form separate divisions of his army. (Exod. xiv. 6, 7.) The Canaanites, whom Joshua engaged at the waters of Merom, had cavalry and a multitude of chariots. (Josh. xi. 4.) Sisera, the general of Jabin, king of Hazor had nine hundred chariots of iron in his army. (Judg. iv. 3.) The tribe of Judah could not obtain possession of part of the lands allotted to them, because the inhabitants of the country were strong in chariots of iron. (Judg. i. 19.) The Philistines, in their war with Saul, had thirty thousand chariots, and six thousand horsemen. (1 Sam. xiii. 5.) David, having taken a thousand war-chariots from Hadadezer, king of Damascus, ham-strung the horses, and burnt nine hundred cha

They were also used among the ancient Britons.

riots, reserving only one hundred. (2 Sam. viii. 4.) It does | in the wilderness, the form of their camp, according to the not appear that the Hebrews ever used chariots in war, though account given in Num. ii., appears to have been quadranguSolomon had a considerable number; but we know of no lar, having three tribes placed on each side, under one genemilitary expedition in which he employed them. In the ral standard, so as to inclose the tabernacle, which stood in second book of Maccabees, mention is made of chariots the centre. Between these four great camps and the taberarmed with scythes, which the king of Syria led against the nacle were pitched four smaller camps of the priests and Jews. (2 Macc. xiii. 2.) These chariots were generally Levites, who were immediately in attendance upon it; the placed on the whole front of the infantry, ranged in a straight camp of Moses and of Aaron and his sons (who were the line, parallel sometimes to the cavalry. Some of them were ministering priests, and had the charge of the sanctuary) was with four, others with two wheels only: these were driven on the east side of the tabernacle, where the entrance was. against the enemy, whom they never failed to put into dis- From Isa. liv. 2. it appears that the tents, under which they order, when they were followed closely by the line. There lived, were nearly the same as those which are now in use were two ways of rendering them useless: first, by opening in the East. Every family and household had their particua passage for them through the battalions; secondly, by kill- lar ensign; under which they encamped or pursued their ing the horses before they were too far advanced: in which march. Rabbinical writers assert that the standard of Judah case they were of the greatest disservice to those who em- was a lion; that of Reuben, the figure of a man; that of ployed them, because they not only embarrassed them, but, Ephraim, an ox; that of Dan, an eagle with a serpent in his further, broke the closeness of the line, and checked all the talons: but for these assertions there is no foundation. force of the onset. The infantry were divided into light- They are probably derived from the patriarch's prophetic armed troops, and into spearmen. (Gen. xlix. 19. 1 Sam. xxx. blessing of his children, related in Gen. xlix. It is far more 8. 15. 23. 2 Sam. iii. 22. iv. 2. xxii. 30. Psal. xviii. 30. in likely, that the names of the several tribes were embroidered the Hebrew, 29. of our English version, 2 Kings v. 2. Hos. in large letters on their respective standards, or that they vii. 1.) The light-armed troops of infantry were furnished were distinguished by appropriate colours. The following with a sling and javelin, with a bow, arrows, and quiver, and diagram, after Ainsworth, Roberts, and Dr. A. Clarke,2 will, also, at least in later times, with a buckler: they fought the perhaps, give the reader a tolerable idea of the beautiful order enemy at a distance. The spearmen, on the contrary, who of the Israelitish encampment; the sight of which, from the were armed with spears, swords, and shields, fought hand mountains of Moab, extorted from Balaam (when he saw to hand. (1 Chron. xii. 24. 34. 2 Chron. xiv. 8. xvii. 17.) Israel abiding in his tents according to their tribes) the followThe light-armed troops were commonly taken from the tribes ing exclamation:-"How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and of Ephraim and Benjamin. (2 Chron. xiv. 8. xvii. 17.) thy tabernacles, O Israel! As the valleys are they spread forth, as gardens by the river's side, as the trees of lign-alves which the Lord hath planted, and as cedar trees beside the waters. (Num. xxiv. 2. 5, 6.)

IV. No information is given us in the Scriptures, concerning the order of ENCAMPMENT adopted by the Israelites after their settlement in Canaan. During their sojourning

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

During the encampment of the Israelites in the wilderness, | der), attended the wagons with the boards, staves, &c. When Moses made various salutary enactments, which are recorded these were on their march a second alarm was sounded, in Deut. xxiii. 10-15., for guarding against the vice and un- upon which the standard of Reuben's camp advanced with cleanliness that might otherwise have prevailed among so the three tribes under it. After them followed the Kohathlarge a body of people, forming an aggregate of upwards of ites (the third family of the Levites) bearing the sanctuary, three millions. The following was the order of their march, that is, the Holy of Holies and the utensils thereto belongwhich is not much unlike that in which the caravans or assem-ing; and because this was less cumbersome than the boards, blages of oriental travellers still continue to move :-When pillars, and other parts of the tabernacle, and more holy, it they were to remove (which was only when the cloud was was on that account not put into a wagon, but carried on taken off the tabernacle), the trumpet was sounded, and upon their shoulders. Next followed the standard of Ephraim's the first alarm the standard of Judah being raised, the three 1 Lamy de Tabernaculo, lib. iii. c. 2. Carpzov has given at length the tribes which belonged to it set forward; then the tabernacle rabbinical descriptions of the Israelitish standards. Antiq. Hebr. Gentis. being taken down, which was the proper office of the Levites, pp. 667, 668. In their Commentaries, on Num. ii. Roberts's Calvis Bibliorum, p. the Gershonites and the Merarites (two families of that or-24. folio edit.

camp with the tribes belonging to it: and last of all the other | brass, principally of the latter metal. In the Scriptures we three tribes under the standard of Dan brought up the rear; Moses and Aaron overseeing the whole, that every thing was done as God had directed, while the sons of Aaron were chiefly employed in blowing the trumpets, and other offices properly belonging to them.

From 1 Sam. xxvi. 5., as rendered in our authorized version (Saul lay in the trench, and the people pitched round about him), it has been imagined that the Israelites had a fortified camp. The proper rendering is, that Saul lay among the baggage, with his spear stuck at his head (v. 7.), in the same manner as is usual among the Persians, and also among the Arabs to this day, wherever the disposition of the ground will permit it: their emir or prince being in the centre of the Arabs around him at a respectful distance.2 When David is represented as sometimes secreting himself in the night, when he was with his armies, instead of lodging with the people (2 Sam. xvii. 8, 9.), it probably means that he did not lodge in the middle of the camp, which was the proper place for a king, in order that he might the better avoid any surprise from his enemies.3

V. In ancient times the Hebrews received no pay, during their military service: the same practice of gratuitous service obtained among the Greeks and Romans, in the early period of their respective republics.4 The Cherethites and Pelethites appear to have been the first stipendiary soldiers: it is however probable, that the great military officers of Saul, David, Solomon, and the other kings, had some allowance suitable to the dignity of their rank. The soldiers were paid out of the king's treasury: and in order to stimulate their valour, rewards and honours were publicly bestowed on those who distinguished themselves against the enemy; consisting of pecuniary presents, a girdle or belt, a woman of quality for a wife, exemptions from taxes, promotion to a higher rank in the army, &c. all of which were attended with great profit and distinction. (2 Sam. xviii. 11. Josh. xv. 16. 1 Sam. xviii. 25. 1 Chron. xi. 6.) In the age of the Maccabees, the patriot Simon both armed and paid his brave companions in arms, at his own expense. (1 Macc. xiv. 32.) Afterwards, it became an established custom, that all soldiers should receive pay. (Luke iii. 14. 1 Cor. ix. 7.)

read of brazen shields, helmets, and bows; the helmet,
greaves, and target of the gigantic Goliath were all of brass,
which was the metal chiefly used by the ancient Greeks.
The national museums of most countries contain abundant
specimens of brazen arms, which have been rescued from the
destroying hand of time. Originally, every man provided his
own arms: but after the establishment of the monarchy,
depôts were formed, whence they were distributed to the men
as occasion required. (2 Chron. xi. 12. xxvi. 14, 15.)
Of the DEFENSIVE ARMS of the Hebrews, the following
were the most remarkable; viz.

1. The HELMET у (KOBANG), for covering and defending
the head. This was a part of the military provision made by
Uzziah for his vast army (2 Chron. xxvi. 14.): and long be-
fore the time of that king, the helmets of Saul and of the
Philistine champion were of brass. (1 Sam. xvii. 38. 5.)
This military cap was also worn by the Persians, Ethiopians,
and Libyans (Ezek. xxxviii. 5.), and by the troops which
Antiochus sent against Judas Maccabeus. (1 Macc. vi. 35.);
another piece of defensive armour. Goliath, and the soldiers
of Antiochus (1 Sam. xvii. 5. 1 Macc. vi. 35.) were accoutred
with this defence, which, in our authorized translation, is
variously rendered habergeon, coat of mail, and brigandine.
(1 Sam. xvii. 38. 2 Chron. xxvi. 14. Isa. lix. 17. Jer. xlvi. 4.)
Between the joints of his harness (as it is termed in 1 Kings
xxii. 34.), the profligate Ahab was mortally wounded by an
arrow shot at a venture. From these various renderings of
the original word, it should seem that this piece of armour
covered both the back and breast, but principally the latter.
The corslets were made of various materials: sometimes
they were made of flax or cotton, woven very thick, or of a
kind of woollen felt: others again were made of iron or
brazen scales, or laminæ, laid one over another like the scales
of a fish; others were properly what we call coats of mail;
and others were composed of two pieces of iron or brass,
which protected the back and breast. All these kinds of
corslets are mentioned in the Scriptures. Goliath's coat of
mail (1 Sam. xvii. 5.) was literally, a corslet of scales, that is,
composed of numerous laminæ of brass, crossing each other.
It was called by the Latin writers squamea lorica. Similar
breast-plate worn by the unhappy Saul, when he perished in
battle, is supposed to have been of flax, or cotton, woven
very close and thick. (2 Sam. i. 9. marginal rendering.)
3. The SHIELD defended the whole body during the battle.
It was of various forms, and made of wood or ozier, covered
with tough hides, or of brass, and sometimes was overlaid
with gold. (1 Kings x. 16, 17. xiv. 26, 27.) Two sorts are
mentioned in the Scriptures, viz. the n (TsinNaн) great
shield or buckler, and the pan (MaGEN) or smaller shield. It
was much used by the Jews, Babylonians, Chaldæans, As-
syrians, and Egyptians. David, who was a great warrior,
often mentions a shield and buckler, in his divine poems, to
signify that defence and protection of heaven which he ex-
pected and experienced, and in which he reposed all his trust.
(Psal. v. 12.) And when he says, God will with favour
compass the righteous as with a shield, he seems to allude to
the use of the great shield tsinnah (which is the word he uses)
with which they covered and defended their whole bodies.
King Solomon caused two different sorts of shields to be made,
viz. the tsinnah (which answers to the clypeus of the Latins),
such a large shield as the infantry wore, and the maginnim
or scuta, which were used by the horsemen, and were of a
much less size. (2 Chron. ix. 15, 16.) The former of these
are translated targets, and are double in weight to the other.
The Philistines came into the field with this weapon: so we
find their formidable champion was appointed. (1 Sam. xvii.
7.) One bearing a shield went before him, whose proper
duty it was to carry this and some other weapons, with which
to furnish his master upon occasion."

It appears from various passages of Scripture, and especially from Isa. ii. 4. and Mic. iv. 3., that there were mili-corslets were worn by the Persians and other nations. The tary schools, in which the Hebrew soldiers learned war, or, in modern language, were trained, by proper officers, in those exercises which were in use among the other nations of antiquity. Swiftness of foot was an accomplishment highly valued among the Hebrew warriors, both for attacking and pursuing an enemy, as well as among the ancient Greeks and Romans. In 2 Sam. i. 19. Saul is denominated the roe (in our version rendered the beauty) of Israel; the force of which expression will be felt, when it is recollected that in the East, to this day, the hind and roe, the hart and antelope, continue to be held in high estimation for the delicate elegance of their form, or their graceful agility of action. In 2 Sam. ii. 18. we are told that Asahel was as light of foot as a wild roe;-a mode of expression perfectly synonymous with the epithet of das anus Axes, the swift-footed Achilles, which is given by Homer to his hero, not fewer than thirty times in the course of the Iliad. David expressed his gratitude to God for making his feet like hind's feet for swiftness, and teaching his hands to war, so that a bow of steel was broken by his arms. (Psal. xviii. 33, 34.) The tribe of Benjamin could boast of a great number of brave men, who could use their right and left hands with equal dexterity (Judg. xx. 16. 1 Chron. xii. 2.), and who were eminent for their skill in the use of the bow and the sling. The men of war, out of the tribe of Gad, who came to David when persecuted by Saul, are described as being men of war, fit for the battle, that could handle shield and buckler, whose faces were like the faces of lions, and who were as swift as the roes upon the mountains. (1 Chron. xii. 8.)

VI. The Hebrews do not appear to have had any peculiar
military habit: as the flowing dress which they ordinarily
wore, would have impeded their movements, they girt it
closely around them when preparing for battle, and loosened
it on their return. (2 Sam. xx. 8. 1 Kings xx. 11.) They
used the same arms as the neighbouring nations, both defen-
sive and offensive, and these were made either of iron or of
1 Morier's Second Journey into Persia, pp. 115, 116.
Captains Irby's and Mangle's Travels in Egypt, &c. p. 395. Dr. Della
Cella's Narrative of an Expedition from Tripoli in Barbary to the Western
Frontiers of Egypt, p. 11.

3 Harmer's Observations, vol. iii. pp. 430, 431.
Livy, lib. iv. c. 59. Bruning's Antiquit. Græc. p. 102.

Calmet, in his elaborate Dissertation sur la Milice des Anciens He

breux, has collected numerous examples from Homer, Hesiod, Virgil, and various other classic writers, in which brazen arms and armour are men. tioned. Dissertations, tom. i. pp. 220–222.

Eneid, lib. ix. 707.

The chevalier Folard is of opinion that the brazen shield, with which Goliath covered his shoulders, consisted only of brass plates fastened upon with gold plates, and deposited in the temple (1 Kings x. 16, 17.), and which, the wood; similar to the bucklers which Solomon afterwards enriched having been carried away by Shishak, king of Egypt, were replaced by Rehoboam, with other brazen shields. An additional reason for concluding Goliath's shield to have been composed of brass plates affixed to wood, is, that if it had been wholly composed of this metal, and had been of a size proportionable to his body, it is doubtful whether this giant, and still more whether his squire, would have been able to support its weight.

A shield-bearer was an office among the Jews as well as he Philistines, for David when he first went to court was made king Saul's armour-bearer (1 Sam. xvi. 21.), and Jonathan had a young man who bore his armour before him. (1 Sam. xiv. 1.) Besides this tsinnah, or great massy shield, Goliath was furnished with a less one (I Sam. xvii. 6. and 45.), which is not expressed by one of the fore-mentioned words, but is called cidon, which we render a target in one place and a shield in another, and was of a different nature from the common shields. He seems not only to have held it in his hand when he had occasion to use it, but could also at other times conveniently hang it about his neck and turn it behind, on which account it is added, that it was between his shoulders. The loss of the shield in fight was excessively resented by the Jewish warriors, as well as lamented by them, for it was a signal ingredient of the public mourning, that the shield of the mighty was vilely cast away. (2 Sam. i. 21.) David, a man of arms, who composed the beautiful elegy on the death of Saul related in 2 Sam. i. 19-27., was sensible how disgraceful a thing it was for soldiers to quit their shields in the field, yet this was the deplorable case of the Jewish soldiers in that unhappy engagement with the Philistines (1 Sam. xxxi. 7.), they fled away and left their shields behind them; this vile and dishonourable casting away of that principal armour is deservedly the subject of the royal poet's lamentation.

But these honourable sentiments were not confined to the Jews. We find them prevailing among most other ancient nations, who considered it infamous to cast away or lose their shield. With the Greeks it was a capital crime, and punished with death. The Lacedemonian women, it is well known, in order to excite the courage of their sons, used to deliver to them their fathers' shields, with this short address: "This shield thy father always preserved; do thou preserve it also, or perish." Alluding to these sentiments, Saint Paul, when exhorting the Hebrew Christians to steadfastness in the faith of the Gospel, urges them not to cast away their confidence, their confession of faith, which hath great recompense of reward, no less than the approbation of God, the peace which passeth all understanding here, and the glories of heaven, as their eternal portion. (Heb. x. 35.)

It may be further observed, that they used to scour and polish their arms, as may be inferred from the prophet's expressions of furbishing the spears and making bright the arrows (Jer. xlvi. 4. and li. 11.), and it should seem that such shields as were covered with leather were oiled in order to keep them clean, and prevent them from becoming too dry. To this custom there is an allusion in 2 Sam. i. 21. and Isa. xxi. 5. When the shields were not in use, they were covered with a case, in order to preserve them from being rusty and soiled; hence we read of uncovering the shield, which signifies preparing for war, and having that weapon especially in readiness. (Isa. xxii. 6.)

4. Another defensive provision in war was the MILITARY GIRDLE, or BELT, which answered a twofold purpose, viz. first, in order to wear the sword, which hung at the soldier's girdle or belt (1 Sam. xvii. 39); secondly, it was necessary to gird their clothes and armour together, and thus David girded his sword upon his armour. To gird and to arm are synonymous words in Scripture; for those who are said to be able to put on armour are, according to the Hebrew and the Septuagint, girt with a girdle, and hence comes the expression of girding to the battle. (1 Kings xx. 11. Isa. viii. 9. 2 Sam. xxii. 40.) The military girdle was the chief ornament of a soldier, and was highly prized among all ancient nations: it was also a rich present from one chieftain to another. Thus, Jonathan gave his girdle to David, as the highest pledge of his esteem and perpetual friendship. (1 Sam. xviii. 4.)1

5. Boors or GREAVES were part of the ancient defensive harness, because it was the custom to cast certain qua, impediments (so called because they entangle their feet, afterwards known by the name of gall-traps, which since, in heraldry, are corruptly called call-trops), in the way before the enemy: the military boot or shoe was, therefore, necessary to guard the legs and feet from the iron stakes placed in the way to gall and wound them; and thus we are enabled to account for Goliath's greaves of brass which were upon his legs.

VII. The OFFENSIVE ARMS were of two sorts, viz. such as were employed when they came to a close engagement;

In like manner, Ajax gave his girdle to Hector, as a token of the highest respect. (Iliad, vii. 305.) Dr A. Clarke, on 2 Sam. xviii. 11.

and those with which they annoyed the enemy at a distance. Of the former description were the sword and the battle-axe. 1. The SWORD is the most ancient weapon of offence mentioned in the Bible. With it Jacob's sons treacherously assassinated the Shechemites. (Gen. xxxiv. 25.) It was worn on the thigh (Psal. xlv. 3. Exod. xxxii. 27.), and it should seem on the left thigh; though it is particularly mentioned that Ehud, a Benjamite, put a dagger or short sword under his garments on his right thigh. (Judg. iii. 16.) The palanquin, or travelling couch of Solomon (Song iii. 7, 8. where our version terms it a bed), was surrounded by threescore valiant Israelitish soldiers, every one of whom had his sword girt upon his thigh. There appear to have been two kinds of swords in use, a larger one with one edge, which is called in Hebrew the mouth of the sword (Josh. vi. 21.); and a shorter one with two edges, like that of Ehud. The modern Arabs, it is well known, wear a sabre on one side, and a cangiar or dagger in their girdles.

2. Of the BATTLE-AXE we have no description in the Sacred Volume: it seems to have been a most powerful weapon in the hands of cavalry, from the allusion made to it by Jeremiah:-Thou art my battle-axe and weapons of war; for with thee will I break in pieces the nations, and with thee will I destroy kingdoms: and with thee will I break in pieces the horse and his rider, and with thee will I break in pieces the chariot and his rider. (Jer. li. 20, 21.)

The other offensive weapons for annoying the enemy at a distance, were the spear or javelin, the sling, and the bow and arrow.

3. The SPEAR or JAVELIN (as the words п (ROMACH), and (CHANITH), are variously rendered in Num. xxv. 7. 1 Sam. xiii. 19. and Jer. xlvi. 4.) was of different kinds, according to its length or make. Some of them might be thrown or darted (1 Sam. xviii. 11.); and it appears from 2 Sam. ii 23. that some of them were pointed at both ends. When armies were encamped, the spear of the general or commander-in-chief was stuck into the ground at his head.2 4. SLINGS are enumerated among the military stores collected by Uzziah. (2 Chron. xxvi. 14.) In the use of the sling, David eminently excelled, and slew Goliath with a stone from one. The Benjamites were celebrated in battle because they had attained to a great skill and accuracy in handling this weapon; they could sling stones to a hair's breadth, and not miss (Judg. xx. 16.); and where it is said that they were left-handed, it should rather be rendered ambidexters, for we are told, they could use both the right-hand and the left (1 Chron. xii. 2.); that is, they did not constantly use their right hand as others did, when they shot arrows or slung stones, but they were so expert in their military exercises, that they could perform them with their left hand as well as with their right.

5. Bows and ARROWS are of great antiquity: indeed, no weapon is mentioned so early. Thus Isaac said to Esau, Take thy weapons, thy quiver and thy bow (Gen. xxvii. 3.); though it is true, these are not spoken of as used in war, but in hunting, and so they are supposed and implied before this; where it is said of Ishmael, that he became an archer, and used bows and arrows in shooting of wild beasts. (Gen. xxi. 20.) This afterwards became so useful a weapon, that care was taken to train up the Hebrew youth to it betimes. When David had in a solemn manner lamented the death of king Saul, he gave orders for teaching the young men the use of the bow (2 Sam. i. 18.), that they might be as expert as the Philistines, by whose bows and arrows Saul and his army were slain. These were part of the military ammunition (for in those times bows were used instead of guns, and arrows supplied the place of powder and ball). From Job xx. 24. and from Psal. xviii. 34. it may be collected, that the military bow was made of steel, and, consequently, was very stiff and hard to bend, on which account they used their foot in bending their bows; and therefore when the prophets speak of treading the bow, and of bows trodden, they are to be understood of bows bent, as our translators rightly render it (Jer. 1. 14. Isa. v. 28. xxi. 15.); where the Hebrew word which is used in these places signifies to tread upon. This weapon was thought so necessary in war, that it is called the bow of war, or the battle-bow. (Zech. ix. 10. x. 4.)

VIII. Many of the cities of Palestine, being erected on eminences, were fortified by nature; but most frequently they were surrounded with a lofty wall, either single or double (Deut. xxviii. 52. 2 Chron. xxxiii. 14. Isa. xxii. 11.); on which were erected towers or bulwarks. (2 Chron. xiv. 7

See p. 87. supra, for examples of this custom.

xxvi. 9. Psal. xlviii. 13.) These towers were furnished with machines, from which the besieged could discharge arrows and great stones. (2 Chron. xxvi. 15.) It was also usual to erect towers on the confines of a country, to repress the incursions of troublesome neighbours, and which also served as occasional places of refuge. The tower of Peniel (Judg. viii. 9. 17.), and those erected by Uzziah (2 Chron. xxvi. 9, 10.), appear to have been of this description; and similar towers were afterwards erected by the crusaders. When the Israelites were about to besiege a city, they dug trenches, drew a line of circumvallation, erected ramparts, built forts against it, and cast a mount against it; they also set the camp against it, and set battering rams against it round about, (2 Sam. xx. 15. Lam. ii. 8. Ezek. iv. 2.) These engines of shot, as our margin renders it in the prophecy of Jeremiah (vi. 6.), in all probability, resembled in some measure the balista and catapultæ among the Romans; which were used for throwing stones and arrows, and anciently served instead of mortars and carcasses. Further, in order to give notice of an approaching enemy, and to bring the dispersed inhabitants of the country together, they used to set up beacons on the tops of mountains, as a proper alarm upon those occasions. Such were the various instruments of offence and defence in use among the ancient Israelites. Sometimes, however, they were very badly provided with military weapons: for, after the Philistines had gained many considerable advantages over them, and in effect subdued their country, they took care that no smith should be left throughout the land of Israel, to prevent them from making swords and spears; so that the Israelites were obliged to go down to the Philistines whenever they had occasion to sharpen their instruments of husbandry. (1 Sam. xiii. 19, 20. 22.) Long before the reign of Saul we read that there was not a shield or spear seen among forty thousand in Israel (Judg. v. 8.); though it is probable that they had other military weapons which are not mentioned. After Nebuchadnezzar had captured Jerusalem, he adopted the policy of the Philistines, and took all the craftsmen and smiths with him to Babylon, that the poorest of the people, whom he had left behind, might be in no condition to rebel. (2 Kings xxiv. 14.)

It was an ancient custom to shoot an arrow or cast a spear into the country which an army intended to invade. As soon as Alexander had arrived on the coasts of Ionia, he threw a dart into the country of the Persians.2 The throwing of a dart was considered as an emblem of the commencement of hostilities among the Romans.3 Some such custom as this appears to have obtained among the eastern people; and to this the prophet Elisha alluded when he termed the arrow shot by the king of Israel, the arrow of deliverance from Syria (2 Kings xiii. 17.): meaning, that as surely as that arrow was shot towards the lands which had been conquered from the Israelites by the Syrians, so surely should those lands be reconquered and restored to Israel.

IX. Previously to undertaking a war, the heathens consulted their oracles, soothsayers, and magicians; and after their example, Saul, when forsaken by God, had recourse to a witch to know the result of the impending battle (1 Sam. xxviii. 7.): they also had recourse to divination by arrows, and inspection of the livers of slaughtered victims. (Ezek. xxi. 21.) The Israelites, to whom these things were prohibited, formerly consulted the urim and thummim, or the sacred lot. (Judg. i. 1. xx. 27, 28.) After the establishment of the monarchy, the kings, as they were piously or impiously disposed, consulted the prophets of the Lord, or the false prophets, the latter of whom (as it was their interest) failed not to persuade them that they should succeed. (1 Kings xxii. 6-13. 2 Kings xix. 2. 20.) Their expeditions were generally undertaken in the spring (2 Sam. xi. 1.), and carried on through the summer. Previously to the engagement, the combatants anointed their shields, and took food that their strength might not fail them. (Isa. xxi. 5. Jer. xlvi. 3, 4.) The law and usage of civilized nations require that no war should be undertaken without a previous declaration, and without a previous demand of satisfaction for the injury complained of. Hence, in the voluntary wars of the Jews, Moses ordained that certain conditions of peace should be offered before the Israelites attacked any place. (Deut. xx. 10-20.) There does not, however, appear to have been any uniform mode of declaring war.

1 Harmer's Observations, vol. iii. pp. 415-418. 425-423.

2 Justin, Hist. Philipp. lib. ii.

When Jephthah was appointed judge of the Israelites beyond the Jordan, he sent messengers (or ambassadors) to the king of the Ammonites, saying, What hast thou li do with me, that thou art come against me, to fight in my land? (Judg. xi. 12.) On the Ammonites complaining that the Israelites had forcibly seized their lands, Jephthah, after justifying his people from the charge, concluded by say ing, The LORD, the Judge, be judge this day between the children of Israel and the children of Ammon (27.); after which he attacked and totally discomfited them. When the Philistines invaded the territory of the tribe of Judah, to avenge the injury committed by Samson in burning their corn, in reply to the question of the men of Judah, Why are ye come up against us? and on their promising to deliver up Samson, the Philistines withdrew their forces. (Judg. xv. 9, 10, &c.) After the detestable crime committed by certain Benjamites of the town of Gibeah, upon the Levite's concubine, all the assembled Israelites sent to the tribe of Benjamin, to demand that the guilty parties should be delivered up, that they might put them to death, and put away evil from Israel. (Judg. xx. 12, 13.) Nor did they resolve upon war, until after the refusal of the Benjamites.

In later times, we may observe a kind of defiance, or declaration of war between David's army under the command of Joab, and that of Ishbosheth under Abner, who said to Joab, Let the young men now arise and play before us. And Joab said, Let them arise; and immediately the conflict began between twelve men of each army (2 Sam. ii. 14, 15.) Amaziah, king of Judah, proud of some advantages which he had obtained over the Levites, sent a challenge to Jehoash king of Israel, saying, Come, let us look one another in the face. Jehoash, in a beautiful parable, dissuaded him from going to war; to which Amaziah refused to listen. The two kings did look one another in the face at Bethshemesh, where the king of Judah was totally defeated. (2 Kings xiv. 8-12.) BenHadad, king of Syria, declared war against Ahab in a yet more insolent manner. Having laid siege to Samaria, he sent messengers, saying, Thy silver and thy gold is mine; thy wives also, and thy children are mine. Ahab, who felt his weakness, replied, My lord, O king, according to thy saying, I am thine and all that I have. Then Ben-Hadad, more insolent than before, rejoined, Although I have sent unto thee, saying, Thou shalt deliver me thy silver, and thy gold, and thy wives, and thy children; yet I will send my servants unto thee to-morrow about this time, and they shall search thine house, and the houses of thy servants, and whatsoever is pleasant in thine eyes, they shall put it in their hand, and take it away. These exorbitant demands being rejected by Ahab and his counsel, who resolved to defend themselves and sustain the siege, Ben-Hadad was obliged to abandon it, after having lost the greater part of his army. (1 Kings xx. 4-21.5 When Pharaoh Necho king of Egypt, on his way to Carchemish against the Assyrians, was desirous of crossing the dominions of the king of Judah, Josiah, who was the ally or tributary of the Assyrian monarch, opposed his passage with an army. Then Necho sent ambassadors to him, saying, What have I to do with thee, thou king of Judah? I come not against thee this day, but against the house wherewith 1 have war, for God commanded me to make haste. Forbear thou from meddling with God, who is with me, that he destroy thee not. Josiah persisted, and was mortally wounded in a battle which he lost. (2 Chron. xxxv. 20—24.)

X. Of the precise mode in which the earliest Jewish armies were drawn up, the Scriptures give us no information: but, as the art of war was then comparatively imperfect, much reliance was placed in the multitude of combatants, a notion, the fallacy of which is exposed in Psal. xxxiii. 16. Subsequently, however, under the kings, when the Jews had cavalry, they threw them upon the wings (according to the chevalier Folard), in large squadrons of six or eight hundred horse, with a depth equal to the front, and with little intervals between them. But this order was not always observed. John the son of Simon Maccabæus, in the battle which he fought with Cendebeus, placed his horse in the centre, and threw his foot upon the wings; to which successful stratagem he was, under Providence, indebted for a complete victory (1 Macc. xvi. 7, 8.): for the novelty of this order of battle amazed the enemy's infantry, and confounded Cendebeus, when he found that he had to encounter the whole of John's cavalry, which bore down his foot, while the infantry of the Jews broke through his horse, and put them to flight. From the time of Moses to that of Solomon, the ark of the

Livy, lib. i. c. 32. Other instances from the Roman history may be covenant was present in the camp, the symbol of the divine

seen in Adam's Roman Antiquities, p. 362.



« ElőzőTovább »