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The wars in which the Israelites were engaged, were of two kinds, either such as were expressly enjoined by divine command, or such as were voluntary and entered upon by the prince for revenging some national affronts, and for the honour of his sovereignty. Of the first sort were those undertaken against the seven nations of Canaan, whom God had devoted to destruction, viz. the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites (strictly so called), the Perizzites, the Hivites, the Jebusites, and the Girgashites. These the Israelites were commanded to extirpate, and to settle themselves in their place. (Deut. vii. 1, 2. and xx. 16, 17.) There were indeed other nations who inhabited this country in the days of Abraham, as may be seen in Gen. xv. 19, 20. But these had either become extinct since that time, or being but a small people were incorporated with the rest. To these seven nations no terms of peace could be offered; for, being guilty of gross idolatries and other detestable vices of all kinds, God thought them unfit to live any longer upon the face of the earth. These wars thus undertaken by the command of God, were called the wars of the Lord, of which a particular record seems to have been kept, as mentioned in Numb. xxi. 14.
In the voluntary wars of the Israelites, which were undertaken upon some national account, such as most of those were in the times of the Judges, when the Moabites, Philistines, and other neighbouring nations invaded their country, and such as that of David against the Ammonites, whose king had affronted his ambassadors,-there were certain rules established by God, which were to regulate their conduct, both in the undertaking and carrying on of these wars. As, first, they were to proclaim peace to them, which, if they accepted, these people were to become tributaries to them; but if they refused, all the males, upon besieging the city, were allowed to be slain, if the Israelites thought fit; but the women and little ones were to be spared, and the cattle with the other goods of the city were to belong as spoil, to the Israelites. (Deut. xx. 10-15.) Secondly, in besieging a city they were not to commit unnecessary waste and depredations, for though they were allowed to cut down barren trees of all sorts, to serve the purposes of their approaches, yet they were obliged to spare the fruit-trees as being necessary to support the lives of the inhabitants in future times, when the little rancour, which was the occasion of their present hostilities, should be removed and done away. (Deut. xx. 19, 20.)
The Israelites in the beginning of their republic, appear to have been a timorous and cowardly people; their spirits were broken by their bondage in Egypt; and this base temper soon appeared upon the approach of Pharaoh and his army, before the Israelites passed through the Red Sea, which made them murmur so much against Moses. (Exod. xiv. 10, 11, 12.) But in no instance was their cowardice more evident, than when they heard the report of the spies concerning the inhabitants of the land, which threw them into a fit of despair, and made them resolve to return into Egypt, notwithstanding. all the miracles wrought for them by God: (Numb. xiv.
1-6.) It was on this account that David, who was well acquainted with their disposition, says, that they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them, but thy right hand and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, because thou hadst a favour unto them. (Psal. xliv. 3.)
After their departure from Egypt, the whole of the men, from twenty years and upwards until the age of fifty (when they might demand their discharge if they chose), were liable to military service, the priests and Levites not excepted. (Numb. i. 3. 22. 2 Sam. xxiii. 20. 1 Kings ii. 35.) Like the militia in some countries, they were always ready to assemble at the shortest notice. If the occasion were extremely urgent, affecting their existence as a people, all were summoned to war; but ordinarily, when there was no necessity for convoking the whole of their forces, a selection was made. Thus Joshua chose twelve thousand men, in order to attack the Amalekites (Exod. xvii. 9, 10.): in the war with the Midianites, one thousand men were selected out of each tribe (Numb. xxxi. 4, 5.), and in the rash assault upon the city of Ai, three thousand men were employed. (Josh. vii. 3, 4.) The book of Judges furnishes numerous instances of this mode of selection. Hence we read in the Scriptures of choosing the men, not of levying them. In like manner, under the Roman republic, all the citizens of the military age (seventeen to forty-six years) were obliged to serve a certain number of campaigns, when they were commanded. On the day appointed, the consuls held a levy (delectum habebant), by the assistance of the military or legionary tribunes; when it was determined by lot in what manner the tribes should be called. The consuls ordered such as they pleased to be cited out of each tribe, and every one was obliged to answer to his name under a severe penalty. On certain occasions, some of the most refractory were put to death.1 To the above described mode of selecting troops, our Saviour alluded, when he said that many are called but few chosen (Matt. xx. 16.) the great mass of the people being convened, choice was made of those who were the most fit for service.
This mode of selecting soldiers accounts for the formation of those vast armies, in a very short space of time, of which we read in the Old Testament. The men of Jabesh Gilead who, in the beginning of Saul's reign, were besieged by the Ammonites, had only seven days' respite given them to send messengers to the coast of Israel, after which, if no relief came to them, they were to deliver up the city and have their eyes put out, which was the best condition, it seems, they could procure. (1 Sam. xi. 1, 2, 3.) As soon as Saul was informed of it, he by a symbolical representation of cutting a yoke of oxen in pieces, and sending them all over Israel, signified what should be done to the oxen of such as did not appear upon this summons. In consequence of this summons, we find that an army of three hundred and thirty thousand men was formed, who
1 Dr. Adam's Roman Antiquities, pp. 362, 363. fifth edit.
relieved the place within the seven days allowed them. In like manner, when the children of Israel had heard of the crime that was committed by the inhabitants of Gibeah against the Levite's concubine, it is said, that they resolved not to return to their houses till they had fully avenged this insult (Judg. xx. 8.), and accordingly upon the tribe of Benjamin's refusing to deliver up these men, an army was soon gathered together of four hundred thousand men of war. (verse 17.) Nor was the providing of their arms with necessaries any impediment to these sudden levies; for in the beginning of the Jewish republic, their armies consisting altogether of infantry, every one served at their own expense, and ordinarily carried their own arms and provisions along with them. And thus we find that Jesse sent a supply of provisions by David to his other three sons that were in Saul's camp (1 Sam. xvii. 13. 17.), which gave David an opportunity of engaging Goliath; and this was the chief reason why their wars in those days were ordinarily but of a short continuance, it being hardly possible that a large body could subsist long upon such provisions as every one carried along with him. After the time of Solomon, their armies became vastly numerous : we read that Abijah king of Judah had an army of four hundred thousand men, with which he fought Jeroboam king of Israel, who had double that number (2 Chron. xiii. 3.), and it is said there were five hundred thousand killed of Jeroboam's army. (ver. 17.) Asa king of Judah had an army of nearly six hundred thousand men, when he was attacked by Zerah the Ethiopian with an host of a million of men. (2 Chron. xiv. 8, 9.) Jehosaphat king of Judah had eleven hundred and sixty thousand men, without reckoning the garrisons in his fortified places. (2 Chron. xvii. 14-19.)
Various regulations were made by Moses concerning the Israelitish soldiers, which are characterised by equal wisdom and humanity. Not to repeat what has already been noticed in p. 186. we may remark that the following classes of persons were wholly exempted from military service (Deut. xx. 5-8. xxiv. 5.), viz.:
1. He, who had built a new house, and had not dedicated it, was to return home, lest he should die in battle, and another man dedicate it. From the title of Psal. xxx.-A Psalm or Song at the dedication of the house of David, it was evidently a custom in Israel to dedicate a new house to Jehovah, with prayer, praise, and thanksgiving, in order that he might obtain the divine blessing.
2. Those who had planted a vine or olive yard, and who had not yet eaten of its produce.
3. Every man who had betrothed a wife and had not taken her home. It is well known, that among the Jews a considerable time sometimes elapsed between the espousal or bethrothing of the parties and the celebration of a marriage. When the bridegroom had made proper preparations, the bride was conducted to his house and the nuptials were consummated.
4. Every newly married man, during the first year after his marriage. The humanity of these three exemptions will be the more
evident, when it is recollected that, antiently, it was deemed an excessive hardship for a person to be obliged to go to battle (in which there was a probability of his being slain) who had left a new house unfinished, a newly purchased heritage half tilled, or a wife with whom he had just contracted marriage. Homer represents the case of Protesilaus as singularly afflicting, who was obliged to go to the Trojan war, leaving his wife in the deepest distress, and his house
4. The last exemption was in favour of the fearful and fainthearted; an exemption of such a disgraceful nature, that one would think it never would have been claimed. Such, however, was the case in Gideon's expedition against the Midianites. Ten thousand only remained out of thirty-two thousand, of which number his army originally consisted; twenty-two thousand having complied with his proclamation, that whosoever was fearful and afraid might return and depart early from mount Gilead. (Jud. vii. 3.) Before the regal government was established, the Israelitish army was entirely disbanded at the conclusion of a war. The earliest instance recorded of any military force being kept in time of peace, is in the reign of Saul, who retained two thousand for his body guard, and one thousand for his son Jonathan's guard. (1 Sam. xiii. 1, 2.) David had a distinct guard, called Cherethites and Pelethites, concerning the origin of whose name various contradictory opinions have been offered. Josephus, however, expressly says that they were his guards, and the Chaldee paraphrast (as we have already remarked) terms them archers and slingers. Besides these he had twelve bodies of twenty-four thousand men each, who were on duty for one month, forming an aggregate of two hundred and eighty-eight thousand men. (1 Chron. xxvii. 1-15.) Subsequently, when the art of war was improved, a regular force seems to have been kept up both in peace and war; for, exclusive of the vast army which Jehosaphat had in the field, we read that he had troops throughout all the fenced cities, which doubtless were garrisoned in time of peace as well as during
III. The Officers who were placed at the head of the Hebrew forces appear not to have differed materially from those whom we find in antient and modern armies. ́
The Division of the army into three bands or companies, mentioned in Gen. xiv. 14, 15. Job. i. 17. Judg. vii. 16. 20. 1 Sam. xi. 11. and 2 Sam. xviii. 2. was probably no other than the division into the centre, left, and right wing, which obtains in the modern art of war. The Hebrews, when they departed from Egypt, marched in military order, (al TSеBOтaм) by their armies or hosts (Exod. xiii. 51.), and (ve-CHаMUSHIM) which word in our English Bibles (Exod. xiii. 18.) is rendered harnessed, and
1 Iliad. lib. ii. 700-702.
2 On this subject the reader may consult the Dissertations of Ikenius, De Crethi et Plethi (Lug. Bat. 1749.), and of Lakemacher, Observationes, Philologicæ, part ii. pp. 11—44., and also Michaelis's Commentaries on the Law of Moses, § 232.
in the margin, by five in rank. It is probable, from these expressions, that they followed each other in ranks fifty deep, and that at the head of each rank or file of fifty was the captain of fifty. (1 Sam. viii. 12. 2 Kings i. 9-14.) The other divisions consisted of tens, hundreds, thousands, &c.; and the officers that commanded them are styled captains of thousands, captains of hundreds, captains of fifties, and captains of tens; of these mention is made in 1 Chron. xii. 14. 20. xiii. 1. xxviii. 1. and 2 Kings i. 9. 11. 13. These, probably, were of the same rank with those whom Moses constituted in the wilderness, rulers of thousands, &c. (Exod. xviii. 25.) and who at first acted in a double capacity, being at the same time civil magistrates and military officers. The captains of thousands seem to have been much the same as colonels of regiments with us; and the captains of hundreds might probably answer to those who in our army have the command of troops and companies; the captains of fifties and tens to our subalterns, sergeants, and corporals. During the Mosaic commonwealth, in conformity to the law in Deut. xx. 9., all these officers were appointed by the Shoterim, genealogists or officers (as they are termed in our version), who probably chose the heads of families; but after the monarchy took place, they received their commissions either from the king in the same manner as at present, as appears from 2 Sam. xviii. 1. and 2 Chron. xxv. 5.; or from the commander in chief (2 Sam. xviii. 11.): and it should seem that a captain's commission was denoted by giving a military girdle or sash. (Isa. xxii. 21. 2 Sam. xviii. 11.)
The principal officer, or leader of the whole army, (who, in the Scriptures is termed the Captain of the Lord's Host,) appears to have been of the same rank with him who is now called the commander in chief of an army. Such were Joshua and the Judges under the primitive constitution of their government as settled by God himself: such was Abner under Saul (2 Sam. ii. 8.), Joab under David (2 Sam. xx. 23.), and Amasa under Absalom, when he was raising a rebellion against his father. (2 Sam. xvii. 25.) The command and authority of this captain of the host appear to have been very great, sometimes indeed nearly equal to that of the sovereign. David seems to have been afraid of Joab his commander in chief; otherwise he would never have suffered him to live after the sanguinary assassinations which he had perpetrated. It is evident that the captain of the host enjoyed great influence in the time of Elisha : for we read, that the prophet having been hospitably entertained by an opulent woman at Shunem, and being desirous of making her some acknowledgment for her kindness, ordered his servant Gehazi to inquire what she would wish to have done for her. Wouldst thou be spoken for to the king, or to the CAPTAIN OF THE HOST? (2 Kings iv. 13.)
After the establishment of the monarchy, the kings went to war in person, and at first fought on foot, like the meanest of their soldiers. Thus David fought, until the danger to which he exposed himself became so great, that his people would no longer allow him