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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
represented by several Heb. and Gr. words. (See WAR). I. Jewish. — The military organization of the Jews commenced with their departure from the land of Egypt, and was adapted to the nature of the expedition on which they then entered. Every man above 20 years of age was a soldier (Numbers 1:3); each tribe formed a regiment, with its own banner and its own leader (Numbers 2:2; Numbers 10:14); their positions in the camp or on the march were accurately fixed (Numbers 2); the whole army started and stopped at a given signal (Numbers 10:5-6); thus they came up out of Egypt ready for the fight (Exodus 13:18). That the Israelites preserved the same exact order throughout their march may be inferred from Balaam's language (Numbers 24:6). On the approach of an enemy, a conscription was made from the general body under the direction of a muster-master (originally named שֹׁטֵר, Deuteronomy 20:5, "officeri" afterward סוֹפֵר, 2 Kings 25:19, "scribe of the host," both terms occurring, however,-to ether in 2 Chronicles 26:11, the meaning of each being primarily a writer), by whom also the officers were appointed (Deuteronomy 20:9). From the number so selected some might be excused serving on certain specified grounds (Deuteronomy 20:5-8; 1 Maccabees 3:56). The army was then divided into thousands and hundreds under their respective captains ( שִר הָאֲלָפִים and שִׂר הִמֵּץוֹת, Numbers 31:14), and still farther into families (Numbers 2:34; 2 Chronicles 25:5; 2 Chronicles 26:12), the family been regarded as the unit in the Jewish polity. From the time the Israelites entered the land of Canaan until the establishment of the kingdom, little progress was made in military affairs: their wars resembled border forays, and the tactics turned upon stratagem rather than upon the discipline and disposition of the forces. Skilfully availing themselves of the opportunities which the country offered, they gained the victory sometimes by an ambush (Joshua 8:4), sometimes by surprising the enemy (Joshua 10:9; Joshua 11:7; Judges 7:21), and sometimes by a judicious attack at the time of fording a river (Judges 3:28; Judges 4:7; Judges 7:24; Judges 12:5). No general muster was made at this period; but the combatants were summoned on the spur of the moment either by trumpet- call (Judges 3:27), by messengers (Judges 6:35), by some significant token (1 Samuel 11:7), or, as in later times, by the erection of a standard (נֵס, Isaiah 18:3; Jeremiah 4:21; Jeremiah 51:27), or a beacon-fire on an eminence (Jeremiah 6:1). (See BATTLE).
With the kings arose the custom of maintaining a body-guard, which formed the nucleus of a standing army. Thus Saul had a band of 3000 select warriors (1 Samuel 13:2; 1 Samuel 14:52; 1 Samuel 24:2), and David, before his accession to the throne, 600 (1 Samuel 23:13; 1 Samuel 25:13). This band he retained after he became kin-l, and added the CHERETHITES and PELETHITES (2 Samuel 15:18; 2 Samuel 20:7), together with another class, whose name, Shaleshim' (שָׁלִישַׁים, Sept. τριστάται, Auth. Vers. "a third part"), has been variously interpreted to mean
(1.) a corps of veteran guards =Roman triarii (Winer, Lex. Heb. p. 991);
(2.) chariot warriors, as being three in each chariot (Gesen. Thes. p. 1429);
(3.) officers of the guard, thirty in number (Ewald, Gesch. ii, 601). The fact that the Egyptian war-chariot, with which the Jews were first acquainted, contained but two warriors, forms an objection to the second of these opinions (Wilkinson, Anc. Egypt, i, 335), and the frequent use of the term in the singular number (2 Kings 7:2; 2 Kings 9:25; 2 Kings 15:25) to the third. Whatever he the meaning of the name, it is evident that it indicated officers of hirh rank, the chief of whom (הִשּׁלִישׁ, "lord," 2 Kings 7:2, or ראשׁ הִשָּׁלִישִׁים, "chief of the captains," 1 Chronicles 12:18) was immediately about the king's person, as adjutant or secretary-at-war. David farther organized a national militia, divided into twelve regiments, each of which was called out for one month in the year under their respective officers (1 Chronicles 27:1); at the head of the army when in active service he appointed a commander-in-chief (שִׂראּצָבָא, "captain of the host," 1 Samuel 14:50).
Hitherto the army had consisted entirely of infantry (רִגְלִי, 1 Samuel 4:10; 1 Samuel 15:4), the use of horses having been restrained by divine command (Deuteronomy 17:16). The Jews had, however, experienced 'the great advantage to be obtained by chariots, both in their encounters with the Canaanites (Joshua 17:16; Judges 1:19), and at a later period with the Syrians (2 Samuel 8:4; 2 Samuel 10:18). The interior of Palestine was indeed generally unsuited to the use of chariots; the Canaanites had employed them only in the plains and valleys, such as Jezreel (Joshua 17:16), the plain of Philistia (Judges i, 19; 1 Samuel 13:5), and the upper valley of the Jordan (Joshua 11:9; Judges 4:2). But the border, both on the side of Egypt and Syria, was admirably adapted to their use; and accordingly we find that as the foreign relations of the kingdoms extended, much importance was attached to them. David had reserved a hundred chariots from the spoil of the Syrians (2 Samuel 8:4): these probably served as the foundation of the force which Solomon afterward enlarged through his alliance with Egypt (2 Kings 10:28-29), and applied to the protection of his border, stations or barracks being erected for them in different localities (1 Kings 9:19). The force amounted to 1400 chariots, 4000 horses, at the rate (in round numbers) of three horses for each chariot, the third being kept as a reserve, and 12,000 horsemen (2 Kings 10:26; 2 Chronicles 1:14). At this period the organization of the army was complete; and we have, in 1 Kings 9:22, apparently a list of the various gradations of rank in the service, as follow:
(1.) אִנְשֵׁי הִמִּלְחָמָה, "men of war" = privates;
(2.) עבָדִים, "servants," the lowest rank of officers = lieutenants;
(3.) שָׂרִים, "princes" =captains;
(4.) שָׁלִישִׁים, "captains," already noticed, perhaps = staff-officers;
(5.) שָׂרֵי הָרֶכֶב and שָׂרֵי הִפָּרָשִׁים , "rulers of his chariots and his horsemen" =cavalry officers. (See CAPTAIN).
It does not appear that the system established by David was maintained by the kings of Judah; but in Israel the proximity of the hostile kingdom of Syria necessitated the maintenance of a standing army. The militia was occasionally called out in time of peace, as by Asa (2 Chronicles 14:8), by Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 17:14), by Amaziah (2 Chronicles 25:5), and lastly by Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:11); but these notices prove that such cases were exceptional. On the other hand, the incidental notices of the body-guard lead to the conclusion that it was regularly kept up (1 Kings 14:28; 2 Kings 11:4; 2 Kings 11:11). Occasional reference is made to war-chariots (2 Kings 8:21), and it would appear that this branch of the service was maintained until the wars with the Syrians weakened the resources of the kingdom (2 Kings 13:7); it was restored by Jotham (Isaiah ii, 7), but in Hezekiah's reign no force of the kind could be maintained, and the Jews were obliged to seek the aid of Egypt for horses and chariots (2 Kings 18:23-24). This was an evident breach of the injunction in Deuteronomy 17:16, and met with strong reprobation on the part of the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 31:1). (See CHARIOT).
With regard to the arrangement and maneuvring of the army in the field, we know but little. A division into three bodies is frequently mentioned (Judges 7:16; Judges 9:43; 1 Samuel 11:11; 2 Samuel 18:2); such a division served various purposes: in action there would be a centre and two wings; in camp, relays for the night-watches (Judges 7:19); and by the combination of two of the divisions, there would be a main body and a reserve, or a strong advanced guard (1 Samuel 13:2; 1 Samuel 25:13). Jehoshaphat divided his army into five bodies, corresponding, according to Ewald (Geschichte, iii, 192), to the geographical divisions of the kingdom at that time: may not, however, the threefold principle of division be noticed here also, the heavy-armed troops of Judah being considered as the proper army, and the two divisions of light-armed of the tribe of Benjamin as an appendage (2 Chronicles 17:14-18)? (See FIGHT).
The maintenance and equipment of the soldiers at the public expense dates from the establishment of a standing army; before which, each soldier armed himself, and obtained his food either by voluntary offerings (2 Samuel 17:28-29), by forced exactions (1 Samuel 25:13), or by the natural resources of the country (1 Samuel 14:27); on one occasion only do we hear of any systematic arrangement for provisioning the host (Judges 20:10). It is doubtful whether the soldier ever received pay even under the kings (the only instance of pay being mentioned applies to mercenaries, 2 Chronicles 25:6); but that he was maintained, while on active service, and provided with arms, appears from 1 Kings 4:27; 1 Kings 10:16-17; 2 Chronicles 26:14 : notices occur of an arsenal or armory, in which the weapons were stored (1 Kings 14:28; Nehemiah 3:19; Song of Solomon 4:4). (See ARMOR).
The numerical strength of the Jewish army cannot be ascertained with any degree of accuracy; the numbers, as given in the text, are manifestly corrupt, and the various statements therefore irreconcilable. At the Exodus the number of the warriors was 600,000 (Exodus 12:37), or 603,350 (Exodus 38:26; Num. i, 46); at the entrance into Canaan, 601,730 (Numbers 26:51). In David's time the army amounted, according to one statement (2 Samuel 24:9), to 1,300,000, viz. 800,000 for Israel and 500,000 for Judah; but according to another statement (1 Chronicles 21:5-6) to 1,470,000, viz. 1,000,000 for Israel and 470,000 for Judah. The militia at the same period amounted to 24,000X12=288,000 (1 Chronicles 27:1 sq.). At a later period the army of Judah under Abijah is stated at 400,000, and that of Israel under Jeroboam at 300,000 (2 Chronicles 13:3). Still later, Asa's army, derived from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin alone, is put at 530,000 (2 Chronicles 14:8), and Jehoshaphat's at 1,160,000 (2 Chronicles 17:14 sq.). (See NUMBER). Little need be said on this subject with regard to the period that succeeded the return from the Babylonish captivity until the organization of military affairs in Judaea under the Romans. The system adopted by Judas Maccabaeus was in strict conformity with the Mosaic law (1 Maccabees 3:55); and though he maintained a standing army, varying from 3000 to 6000 men (1 Maccabees 4:6; 2 Maccabees 8:16), yet the custom of paying the soldiers appears to have been still unknown, and to have originated with Simon (1 Maccabees 14:32). The introduction of mercenaries commenced with John Hyrcanus, who, according to Josephus (Ant. 13:8, 4), rifled the tombs of the kings in order to pay them; the intestine commotions that prevailed in the reign .of Alexander Jannaeus obliged him to increase the number to 6200 men (Josephus, Ant. 13:13, 5; 14, 1); and the same policy was followed by Alexandra (Ant. 13:16, 2), and by Herod the Great, who had in his pay Thracian, German, and Gallic troops (Ant. 17:8, 3). The discipline and arrangement of the army was gradually assimilated to that of the Romans, and the titles of the officers borrowed from it (Josephus, War, ii, 20, 7). (See SOLDIER).
II. Roman Army.-This was divided into legions, the number of which varied considerably, each under six tribunes (χιλίαρχος, " chief captain," Acts 21:31), who commanded by turns. The legion (q.v.) was subdivided into ten cohorts (σπεῖρα , "band," Acts 10:1), the cohort into three maniples, and the maniple into two centuries, containing originally 100 men, as the name implies, but subsequently from 50 to 100 men, according to the strength of the legion. (See Smith, Dict. of Gr. and Rom. Ant. s.v.) There were thus 60 centuries in a legion, each under the command of a centurion (ἑκατονταρχης, Acts 10:1; Acts 10:22; ἑκατόνταρχος , Matthew 8:5; Matthew 27:54). In addition to the legionary cohorts, independent cohorts of volunteers served under the Roman standards; and Biscoe (History of Acts, p. 220) supposes that all the Roman forces stationed in Judaea were of this class. Josephus speaks of five cohorts as stationed at Caesarea at the time of Herod Agrippa's death (Ant. 19:9, 2), and frequently mentions that the inhabitants of Caesarea and Sebaste served in the ranks (Ant. 20:8, 7). One of these cohorts was named the " Italian" (Acts 10:1), not as being a portion of the Italica legio (for this was not embodied until Nero's reign), but as consisting of volunteers from Italy (Gruter, Inscr. i, 434). This cohort probably acted as the bedy- guard of the procurator. The cohort named "Augustus" (σπεῖρα Σεβαστή, Acts 27:1) may have consisted of the volunteers from Sebaste (Josephus, War, ii, 12, 5; Biscoe, p. 223). Others, however, think that it was a cohors Augusta, similar to the legio Augusta. The head- quarters of the Roman forces in Judaea were at Caesarea. A single cohort was probably stationed at Jerusalem as the ordinary guard; at the time of the great feasts, however, and on other public occasions, a larger force was sent up, for the sake of preserving order (Josephus, War, ii, 12, 1; 15, 3). Frequent disturbances arose in reference to the images and other emblems carried by the Roman troops among their military ensigns, which the Jews regarded as idolatrous; deference was paid to their prejudices by a removal of the objects from Jerusalem (Ant. 18:3, 1; 5, 3). For the sentry (Acts 12:4) and their "captain" (Acts 28:16), (See GUARD). The δεξιόλαβοι (Vulg. lancearii; A. V. "spearmen,"), noticed in Acts 23:23, appear to have been light-armed, irregular troops; the origin of the name is, however, quite uncertain (Alford, Comm. in loc.). (See HOST).
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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Army'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/a/army.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.
the Sixth Week after Easter