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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature

Chariots of War

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Fig. 126—Egyptian War Chariot

The Egyptians used horses in the equipment of an armed force before Jacob and his sons had settled in Goshen; they had chariots of war, and mounted asses and mules, and therefore could not be ignorant of the art of riding; but for ages after that period Arab nations rode on the bare back, and guided the animals with a wand. Others, and probably the shepherd invaders, noosed a single rope in a slipknot round the lower jaw, forming an imperfect bridle, with only one rein; a practice still in vogue among the Bedouins. Thus cavalry were but little formidable compared with chariots, until a complete command over the horse was obtained by the discovery of a true bridle. This seems to have been first introduced by chariot-drivers, and there are figures of well-constructed harness, reins, and mouth pieces, in very early Egyptian monuments, representing both native and foreign chariots of war. These differed little from each other, both consisting of a light pole, suspended between and on the withers of a pair of horses, the after-end resting on a light axle tree, with two low wheels. Upon the axle stood a light frame, open behind and floored for the warrior and his charioteer, who both stood within: on the sides of the frame hung the war-bow, in its case: a large quiver with arrows, and darts had commonly a particular sheath. In Persia, the chariots, elevated upon wheels of considerable diameter, had four horses abreast; and, in early ages, there were occasionally hooks or scythes attached to the axles. In fighting from chariots great dexterity was shown by the warrior, not only in handling his weapons, but also in stepping out upon the pole to the horses' shoulders, in order the better to reach his enemies, and the charioteer was an important person, sometimes equal in rank to the warrior himself. Both the kingdoms of Judah and Israel had war-chariots, and, from the case of king Josiah at the battle of Megiddo, it is clear they had also traveling vehicles, for being wounded he quitted his fighting-chariot, and in a second, evidently more commodious, he was brought to Jerusalem (). Chariots of war continued to be used in Syria in the time of the Maccabees (), and in Britain when Caesar invaded the island.





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Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Chariots of War'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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