Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, April 14th, 2024
the Third Sunday after Easter
Tired of seeing ads while studying? Now you can enjoy an "Ads Free" version of the site for as little as 10¢ a day and support a great cause!
Click here to learn more!

Bible Dictionaries

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary

Search for…
Prev Entry
Wanderings of the Israelites
Next Entry
Ward, or Guard
Resource Toolbox
Additional Links

One of the evil fruits of the fall, and an appalling manifestation of the depravity of mankind, Genesis 6:11-13 Isaiah 9:5 James 4:1-2 , often rendered apparently inevitable by the assaults of enemies, or commanded by God for their punishment. See AMALEKITES and CANAAN .

By this scourge, subsequently to the conquest of Canaan, God chastised both his own rebellious people and the corrupt and oppressive idolaters around them. In many cases, moreover, the issue was distinctly made between the true God and idols; as with the Philistines, 1 Samuel 17:43-47; the Syrians, 1 Kings 20:23-30; the Assyrians, 2 Kings 19:10-19,35; and the Ammonites, 2 Chronicles 20:1-30 . Hence God often raised up champions for his people, gave them counsel in war by Urim and by prophets, and miraculously aided them in battle.

Before the period of the kings, there seems to have been scarcely any regular army among the Jews; but all who were able to bear arms were liable to be summoned to the field, 1 Samuel 11:7 . The vast armies of the kings of Judah and Israel usually fought on foot, armed with spears, swords, and shields; having large bodies of archers and slingers, and comparatively few chariots and horsemen. See ARMS.

The forces were arranged in suitable divisions, with officers of tens, hundreds, thousands, etc., Judges 20:10 1 Chronicles 13:1 2 Chronicles 25:5 . The Jews were fully equal to the nations around them in bravery and the arts of war; but were restrained from wars of conquest, and when invaders had been repelled the people dispersed to their homes. A campaign usually commenced in spring, and was terminated before winter, 2 Samuel 11:1 1 Kings 20:22 . As the Jewish host approached a hostile army, the priests cheered them by addresses, Deuteronomy 20:2 1 Samuel 7:9,13 , and by inspiring songs, 2 Chronicles 20:21 . The sacred trumpets gave the signal for battle, Numbers 10:9,10 2 Chronicles 13:12-15; the archers and slingers advanced first, but at length made way for the charge of the heavy-armed spearmen, etc., who sought to terrify the enemy, ere they reached them, by their aspect and war-cries, Judges 7:18-20 1 Samuel 17:52 Job 39:25 Isaiah 17:12,13 .

The combatants were soon engaged hand to hand; the battle became a series of duels; and the victory was gained by the obstinate bravery, the skill, strength, and swiftness of individual warriors, 1 Chronicles 12:8 Psalm 18:32-37 . See Paul's exhortations to Christian firmness, under the assaults of spiritual foes, 1 Corinthians 16:13 Ephesians 6:11-14 1 Thessalonians 3:8 . The battles of the ancients were exceedingly sanguinary, 2 Chronicles 28:6; few were spared except those reserved to grace the triumph or be sold as slaves. A victorious army of Jews on returning was welcomed by the whole population with every demonstration of joy, 1 Samuel 18:6,7 . The spoils were divided after reserving an oblation for the Lord, Numbers 31:50 Judges 5:30; trophies were suspended in public places; eulogies were pronounced in honor of the most distinguished warriors, and lamentations over the dead.

In besieging a walled city, numerous towers were usually erected around it for throwing missiles; catapults were prepared for hurling large darts and stones. Large towers were also constructed and mounds near to the city walls, and raised if possible to an equal or greater height, that by casting a movable bridge across access to the city might be gained. The battering-ram was also employed to effect a breach in the wall; and the crow, a long spar with iron claws at one end and ropes at the other, to pull down stones or men from the top of the wall. These and similar modes of assault the besieged resisted by throwing down darts, stones, heavy rocks, and sometimes boiling oil; but hanging sacks of chaff between the battering-ram and the wall; by strong and sudden sallies, capturing and burning the towers and enginery of the assailants, and quickly retreating into the city, 2 Chronicles 26:14,15 . The modern inventions of gunpowder, rifles, bombs, and heavy artillery have changed all this. See BATTERING-RAM .

As the influence of Christianity diffuses itself in the world, war is becoming less excusable and less practicable; and a great advance may be observed from the customs and spirit of ancient barbarism towards the promised universal supremacy of the Prince of peace, Psalm 46:9 Isaiah 2:4 Micah 4:3 .

"Wars of the Lord" was probably the name of an uninspired book, long since lost, containing details of the events alluded to in Numbers 21:14-15 .

Bibliography Information
Rand, W. W. Entry for 'War'. American Tract Society Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​ats/​w/war.html. 1859.
adsFree icon
Ads FreeProfile