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Fausset's Bible Dictionary


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Chariot, sometimes including the horses (2 Samuel 8:4; 2 Samuel 10:18). Mentioned first in Genesis 41:43, where Joseph rides in Pharaoh's second chariot; also Genesis 46:29. In the Egyptian monuments they occur to the number of 27,000 in records of the reign of Rameses II, 1300 B.C., and even earlier in the 18th dynasty 1530 B.C., when Amosis I used them against the shepherd kings. A leading purpose of chariots was war. Pharaoh followed Israel with 600 chosen chariots (Exodus 14:7). The Canaanites of the valleys armed theirs apparently with iron scythes (Joshua 17:18; Judges 1:19). Jabin had 900, which enabled him to "oppress the children of Israel mightily," because of their sins (Judges 4:3). The Philistines in Saul's time had 30,000 (1 Samuel 13:5). David took from Hadarezer of Zobah 1,000, and from the Syrians 700; these to retrieve their loss gathered 32,000 (1 Chronicles 19:7).

God forbad their use to His people, lest they should depend on human help rather than on Him (Deuteronomy 17:16; Deuteronomy 20:1; Psalms 20:7), also lest there should be a turning of the elect nation's heart back to Egypt and its corrupt ways. Solomon from carnal state policy allied himself to Egypt, and disregarded God's prohibition, as Samuel foretold would be the case if Israel, not content with God, should set up a human king (1 Samuel 8:11-12). Solomon had 1,400 chariots, and bought each out of Egypt at 600 shekels of silver, and a horse for 150; and taxed certain cities for the cost, according to eastern usage (1 Kings 9:19; 1 Kings 10:26; 1 Kings 10:29). In Exodus 14:7 translate "captains (literally, men of the king's council of 30) over the whole of them." Not as some thought, "third men in every one of them."

For the Egyptian chariots only carried two, the driver and the warrior. The Assyrian chariots (Nahum 2:3-4) depicted on the monuments often contain a third, namely, the warrior's shieldbearer. In Exodus 14:9 "horsemen" are mentioned. Hengstenberg thinks rekeb does not mean cavalry, as they are not depicted in the Egyptian monuments, but merely "riders in chariots." But Diodorus Siculus states that Rameses II had 24,000 cavalry. Egyptian art seems even in later times, when certainly cavalry were employed, to have avoided depicting horsemen. The language of Exodus 15:1; Isaiah 31:1, can be reconciled with either view. Ancient papyri allude to mounting on horseback (Cook, in Speaker's Commentary). The men in the chariot always stood.

The Egyptian chariot consisted of a semicircular frame of wood with straight sides, resting on the axle-tree of a pair of wheels; and on the frame a rail attached by leather thongs; one wooden upright in front; open at the back for mounting. On the right side the bowcase and the quiver and spearcase crossed diagonally. The horses wore only breastband and girths attached to the saddle, and a bearing rein fastened to a ring in front of it. In New Testament the only chariots mentioned are that of the Ethiopian eunuch of Candace (Acts 8:28-29; Acts 8:38), and Revelation 9:9. The Persians sacrificed horses to the sun; so the Jews under the idolatrous Manasseh dedicated chariots and horses to the sun (2 Kings 23:11). Josiah burned these chariots with fire, thus making the object of their superstition, fire, to consume their instruments of worship.

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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Chariot'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. 1949.

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