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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

Chariot

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CHARIOT . The original home of the chariot was Western Asia, from which it passed to Egypt and other countries. In OT chariots are associated mainly with war-like operations, although they also appear not infrequently as the ‘carriages,’ so to say, of kings, princes, and high dignitaries ( Genesis 50:9 , 2 Kings 5:9 , Jeremiah 17:25 ; cf. Acts 8:28 ff. the case of the Ethiopian eunuch) in times of peace. When royal personages drove in state, they were preceded by a body of ‘runners’ ( 2 Samuel 15:1 , 1 Kings 1:5 ).

The war chariot appears to have been introduced among the Hebrews by David (2 Samuel 8:4 LXX [Note: Septuagint.] ), but it did not become part of the organized military equipment of the State till the reign of Solomon. This monarch is said to have organized a force of 1400 chariots ( 1 Kings 10:26 , 2 Chronicles 1:14 ), which he distributed among the principal cities of his realm ( 1 Kings 9:19 ; 1 Kings 10:26 ). At this time, also, a considerable trade sprang up in connexion with the importation of chariots and horses. It was not from Egypt, however, which was never a horse-breeding country, that these were imported as stated in the corrupt text of 1 Kings 10:28 f., but from two districts of Asia Minor, in the region of Cappadocia and Cilicia, named Musri and Kuë (see Skinner, Cent. Bible, in loc ). In the following verse a chariot from Musri is said to have cost 600 shekels of silver (see Money), and a horse 150, hut the Gr. text gives 100 shekels and 50 shekels respectively. Similarly in 2 Kings 7:6 the reference is to the chariotry of the Hittites and their allies of Musri.

Until the Macedonian period, when we first hear of chariots armed with scythes ( 2Ma 13:2 ), the war chariot of antiquity followed one general type, alike among the Assyrians and the Egyptians, the Hittites and the Syrians. It consisted of a light wooden body, which was always open behind. The axle, fitted with stout wheels with 6 or 8 spokes (for the Heb. terms see 1 Kings 7:33 ), was set as far back as possible for the sake of greater steadiness, and consequently a surer aim. The pole was fixed into the axle, and after passing beneath the floor of the chariot was bent upwards and connected by a band of leather to the front of the chariot. The horses, two in number, were yoked to the pole. Traces were not used. In Assyrian representations a third horse sometimes appears, evidently as a reserve. The body of the chariot naturally received considerable decoration, for which, and for other details, reference may be made to Wilkinson’s Anc. Egyp. (1878), i. 224 241, and Rawlinson’s Five Great Monarchies (1864), ii. 1 21, where numerous illustrationss are also given. The ‘chariots of iron’ of the ancient Canaanites ( Joshua 17:16 , Judges 1:19 ; Judges 4:3 ) were chariots of which the woodwork was strengthened hy metal plates.

In Egypt and Assyria the normal number of the occupants of a war chariot was two the driver, who was often armed with a whip, and the combatant, an archer whose bow-case and quiver were usually attached to the right-hand side of the car. Egyptian representations of Hittite chariots, however, show three occupants, of whom the third carries a shield to protect his comrades. This was almost certainly the practice among the Hebrews also, since a frequently recurring military term, shâlîsh , signifies ‘the third man,’ presumably in such a chariot.

Mention may be made, finally, of the chariots set up at the entrance to the Temple at Jerusalem, which were destroyed by Josiah. They were doubtless dedicated originally to J″ [Note: Jahweh.] , although they are termed by the Hebrew historian ‘chariots of the sun’ (2 Kings 23:11 ), their installation having been copied from the Babylonian custom of representing Shamash, the sun-god, riding in a chariot.

A. R. S. Kennedy.


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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Chariot'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdb/c/chariot.html. 1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, August 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20
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