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Bible Dictionaries

People's Dictionary of the Bible

War

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War. The ancient battles were truly murderous. Scarcely ever was any quarter given, except where the vanquished were retained as slaves. 2 Chron. IS:17. Enemies were then, as now, surprised and overcome by unexpected divisions of the forces, by ambushes, and by false retreats. Genesis 14:15; Joshua 8:12; Judges 20:36-39; 2 Kings 7:12. In lack of artillery, unwieldy machines for casting heavy stones and other destructive missiles were invented. Uzziah "made in Jerusalem engines invented by cunning men, to be on the towers and upon the bulwarks, to shoot arrows and great stones withal." 2 Chronicles 26:15. There was no part of the ancient military preparations more terrible than chariots. Exodus 14:7; Deuteronomy 20:1; Joshua 17:16; Judges 4:3. They were in common use wherever there was any cavalry. 2 Samuel 10:18; 1 Chronicles 18:4; 2 Chronicles 12:3; 2 Chronicles 14:9. Walls and towers were used in fortifications, and the latter were guarded by soldiers, and are called "garrisons." 2 Samuel 8:6; Ezekiel 26:11. Various passages lead to the opinion that divisions of the army were common, as in modern times. Genesis 14:15; Judges 7:16; 1 Samuel 11:11. The most frequent division of the host was into tens, hundreds, and thousands, and each of these had its commander or captain. Judges 20:10; 1 Samuel 8:12; 2 Kings 11:4. Among the Hebrews these divisions had some reference to the several families, and were under the heads of families as their officers. 2 Chronicles 25:6; 2 Chronicles 26:12. The captains of hundreds and of thousands were of high rank, or, so to speak, staff officers, who were admitted to share in the councils of war. 1 Chronicles 13:1. The whole army had its commander-in-chief or captain, who was over the host, and its scribe or keeper of the muster-roll. 1 Kings 4:4; 1 Chronicles 18:15-16; 1 Chronicles 27:32-34; 2 Chronicles 17:14; 2 Chronicles 26:11. In Isaiah 33:18 the words translated "he that counted the towers" probably indicate what we should call a chief engineer. Under David the army of 288,000 men was divided into twelve corps, each of which was consequently 24,000 strong and had its own general. 1 Chronicles 27:1-34. Under Jehoshaphat this was altered, and there were five unequal corps, under as many commanders. 2 Chronicles 17:14-19. The cohort had 500 or 600 men, and the legion embraced ten cohorts. The light troops were provided with arms which they used at some distance from the enemy, such as bows and arrows. They are designated in 2 Chronicles 14:8; while the heavy-armed were those who bore shield and spear. 1 Chronicles 12:24. The light troops of the army of Asa were taken principally from the tribe of Benjamin because of their extraordinary accuracy of aim. Judges 20:16. See Arms, Armor. The troops were excited to ardor and bravery by addresses from their priests, who were commanded to appeal to them. Deuteronomy 20:2. In later times kings themselves were accustomed to harangue their armies. 2 Chronicles 13:4. Finally, perhaps, after the sacrifices had been offered, the summons was given by the holy trumpets. Numbers 10:9-10; 2 Chronicles 13:12-14. It was the practice of the Greeks, when they were within half a mile of the enemy, to sing their war song. A similar custom probably prevailed among the Jews. 2 Chronicles 20:21. Next followed the shout, or war cry, which the Romans accompanied with the noise of shields and spears struck violently together. This war cry was common in the East, as it is to this day among the Turks. It was the "alarm" or "shout" so often mentioned in Scripture. 1 Samuel 17:52; 2 Chronicles 13:15; Job 39:25; Jeremiah 4:19.


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Bibliography Information
Rice, Edwin Wilbur, DD. Entry for 'War'. People's Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/rpd/w/war.html. 1893.

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