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When the muster was completed, the troops were trained to the use of arms, by officers skilled in the art of
The military exercises of the Hebrews resembled those of other nations around them. Swiftness of foot was highly valued, as it gave the warrior a great advantage over his slower and more unwieldy antagonist. It is accordingly mentioned to the honour of Asahel, one of David's captains, that he was swifter of foot than a wild roe; and the sweet singer of Israel, in his poetical lamentation over those two great captains, Saul and Jonathan, takes particular notice of this warlike quality : “ They were swifter than eagles, stronger than lions.” Nor were the ancient Greeks less attentive to a qualification which the state of the military art in those days rendered so valuable. The foot races in the Olympic games were instituted by warlike chieftains, for the very purpose of enuring their subjects to the fatigues of war, and particularly of increasing their speed, which was regarded as an excellent qualification in a warior, both because it served for a sudden attack and a nimble retreat. Homer, fully aware of its value in ancient warfare, says, that swiftness of foot is one of the most excellent endowments with which a man can be favoured :
Ου μεν γαρ μειζον κλεος οφρα κεν ησιν
Η ό, τι ποσσιν ερεξει και χερσιν εησιν. Odyss. lib. viii, 1. 147.3 To invigorate the frame, on the strength and firmness of which the victory almost entirely depended in primitive times, the Hebrew captains are said to have exercised their soldiers in lifting great weights. After the defeat of Saul, which seems to have been chiefly effected by the i See also Iliad. lib. x, 1. 356. Odyssey, lib. iii, 1. 112. Aytinoxos Wrige
skill and valour of the enemy's archers, David commanded his officers to instruct their troops in the use of the bow, which, though employed by the Hebrew warriors from the earliest times, appears to have been rather neglected till that terrible catastrophe taught them the necessity of forming a body of skilful archers, which might enable them to meet their enemies in the field on equal terms. The Hebrew youth were also taught to hurl the javelin, to handle the spear, and to use the sling, in which many of them greatly excelled.
The alarm of war was given by the voice of a herald, or by a standard raised on the top of the highest mountain, to which was sometimes added the martial sound of the trumpet. Saul probably adopted the first method to assemble his troops, in order to repel the incursion of the Philistines, soon after his accession to the throne ; for it is written, “ The people were called together after Saul, to Gilgal.” The prophet Isaiah, in one of his predictions, alludes both to the voice of the herald and the raising of the standard : “ Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them, shake the hand, that they may go unto the gates of the nobles.” 1 But when Gideon was called from the thrashing floor, to lead the armies of Israel against the countless swarms which marched under the banners of Midian, it is said, " the spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he blew à trumpet, and Abiezer was gathered after him." But as this signal could be heard only by a few, he sent messengers through all Manasseh, Asher, Zebulon, and Naphtali, who immediately joined his standard. The trumpet was used by many nations to gather the soldiers together, * i Sam. xüi, 5. 1 Isa. xiii, 2.
Judg. vi, 34.
prepare them for the battle, give them notice of its commencement, and animate them to the fight. For these reasons, that instrument is called by Jeremiah, “ The alarm of war.”n
As among the Romans, the soldiers were divided into legions, cohorts, and companies of an hundred men ; so were the Hebrew warriors distributed into troops of a thousand, five hundred, an hundred, fifty, and ten men, each commanded by their proper officer. The whole army was commanded by the king in person, or by a gegeral officer bearing his commission.
In the early periods of the Jewish commonwealth, the soldiers served without pay. The Grecian soldiers too, were all maintained at their own expense ; no name was more opprobrious than that of a mercenary, it being considered as a disgrace for any person of ingenuous birth and education to serve for pay. The Carians were the first who introduced the custom of serving for hire, which was considered so infamous, that all the writers of those times represent them as a base and servile people; the very name of Carian became synonimous with slave. But in a few ages, this custom, so far from being regarded as unworthy of their birth and education, was practised by the whole nation of the Greeks, who not only received pay for serving their own country, but also enlisted under the banners of foreign kings, and fought their battles for hire; their kings and chief magistrates not disdaining to accompany them in such expeditions. °
Foreigners resident in the country were permitted to serve in the Jewish armies, and they sometimes rose to a very high rank; for both Urijah and Ittai, who seemed n Potter's Gr. Antiq. vol. ii, p. 69.
• Ibid. p. 7, 8, 9.
to have held principal commands in the armies of David, were aboriginal Canaanites. But in succeeding ages, the kings of Judah, affecting to imitate the policy of the surrounding potentates, or distrusting the omnipotent protection of Jehovah, occasionally hired large bodies of foreign troops to fight their battles, who, like mercenaries of later times, after expelling the invaders, sometimes turned their arms against their employers, and ravaged the country which they came to protect.
In the first periods of the Jewish history, the armies of Israel consisted all of footmen. At length Solomon raised a body of twelve thousand horse, and fourteen hundred chariots, some with two, and others with four horses; but whether that magnificent prince intended them for pomp or war, is uncertain. Infantry was also the chief strength of the Greek and Roman armies. Cavalry is not so necessary in warm climates, where the march of troops is less incommoded with bad roads ; nor can they be of so much use in mountainous countries, where their movements are attended with great difficulty and hazard. The eastern potentates, however, brought immense numbers of horse into the field, and chiefly trusted to their exertions for defence or conquest. The people of Israel, who were appointed to “ dwell alone,” and not to mingle with the nations around them, nor imitate their policy, were expressly forbidden to maintain large bodies of cavalry; and they accordingly prospered, or were defeated, as they obeyed or transgressed this divine command; which a celebrated author observes, cannot be justified by the measures of human prudence. Even upon political reasons, says Warburton, the Jews might be justified in the disuse of cavalry, in the defence of their country, but not in conquering it from a warlike people, who abounded in horses. Here at least, the exertion of an extraordinary providence was wonderfully conspicuous. The kings who succeeded Solomon, certainly raised a body of horse for the defence of their dominions, which they recruited from the studs of Egypt, in those times equally remarkable for their vigour and beauty. But the Jewish cavalry were seldom very numerous; and under the religious kings of David's line, who made the divine law the rule of their policy, they were either disembodied altogether, or reduced to a very small number. In the reign of Hezekiah, when the country was invaded by the king of Assyria, the Jews seem to have had no force of this kind, for, said Rabshakeh, “ Now, therefore, I pray thee, give pledges to my lord, the king of Assyria, and I will deliver thee two thousand horses, if thou be able on thy part to set riders upon them.”
p Potter's Grecian Antiq. vol. ii, p. 9, 10.
In the primitive ages, the warrior managed his charger with a rope or switch, and the accent of his voice; for the bridle was the invention of a more polished age.
This was the practice of the Greeks, and of several other nations. To these the bridle succeeded, of which the most remarkable were those called lupata, having bits of iron, somewhat resembling wolves' teeth. Harness, which Pliny attributes to the inventor of bridles," and which probably came into fashion about the same time, was made of different materials, as leather, cloth, or the skin of wild beasts. Parthenopæus covered his horse with the skin of a lynx; and Æneas, with that of a lion. Sometimes they adorned them with rich and costly trappings ;" and put bells about their necks and on their legs.
9 2 Kings xviii, 23.
r Nat. Hist. lib. vii, cap. 56. s Æneid. lib. vii, l. 275. Potter's Gr. Antiq. vol. ii, p. 11.