Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

This is coolbert: When reading the Bible [Old Testament in particular], you can find many descriptions and mentions of war and war like activities. This is not a contradiction of some sort that should disturb readers. War and warfare have been part and parcel of humanity for all of recorded history and even before that undoubtedly. The Bible DOES contain the full range of human experience, good and bad!

Abraham led a war party of 318 trained men to rescue kinsfolk that had been taken hostage and prisoner. In this raid he was successful, exercising great leadership and personal courage to do so [Genesis 14:14].

The Hebrew army under Joshua, the son of Nun, waged a successful war of conquest in ancient Canaan after the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt under Moses. And this war of conquest was surely an apocalyptic event. 31 cities of the Canaanites being razed to the ground, among other things. The inhabitants slain to the last person [men, women, and children all] in some circumstances!! [Joshua 10:38] The Promised Land was not occupied by peaceful souls gingerly approaching their enemies with cap in hand and "asking permission" to settle down!! [Joshua 12:9-24]

King Saul relentlessly fought the Canaanite tribes and especially the Philistines, who were particular enemies of the ancient Hebrews. Seems the Philistines, also called Sea-Peoples [read further about Sea Peoples by clicking here and here], were themselves invaders who came to settle in the "Promised Land", and gave no respite to the "others" who sought to make the land of Canaan their own. Saul and all his sons perished at the Battle of Mount Gilboa at the hands of the Philistines, a typical no-holds-barred sort of combat common to the era where the bodies of the vanquished were put on display with their armor for the amusement of the victors. [1 Samuel 31].

The death of Saul paved the way for the Kingship of David. During this time Israel became a regional military power, having no equal or rival in the area. The military might of Israel under David lasted during his long reign [40 years], the Jews becoming widely accepted as fierce fighters who were widely prized as mercenaries. In the Bible, such men that fought for David are referred to as "mighty men". [2 Samuel]. [The entire chapter of 2 Samuel is devoted to the reign of David].

After the death of David, a long decline in the military fortunes of Israel began. Defeats became quite common, at the hands of the Assyrians and the Babylonians. This period was culminated by the Jews being conquered and carried away to Babylon, where they languished in exile for centuries, only returning upon the military ascendancy of the Persians under Cyrus. But it should not be thought that the Israelites were not without victories in this period either. The destruction of the besieging army of Sennacherib outside the walls of Jerusalem in a SINGLE NIGHT is a phenomenon not properly understood or explained to this day by students of the Bible. [2 Kings 19:35].

Ancient Israel was also a natural route for armies to follow on their way to war. Witness the passage of the Egyptian army of Pharaoh Necho on it's way to battle the Babylonians at Carchemesh.

"It was probably at Megiddo that Pharaoh Neco killed King Josiah, when he intercepted Neco there to prevent him from proceeding to Carchemesh to assist the Assyrians against the Babylonians (2 Kgs 23:29-30)."

In the period following the death of Alexander the Great of Macedon, the rebellion of the Maccabees is most significant. Not only did the Jews rebel against the rule of Antiochus, a Greek ruling in the manner a despot, they were successful in this revolt and were able to establish a Jewish Kingdom that was independent until the time of the Romans. Read more about the Maccabees by clicking here.

The Bible IS full of war, descriptions of war, mayhem and destruction. This is part of the human experience.



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