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went not as at other times to seek for enchantments, but he set his face towards the wilderness."
Some of the solemn charms used by the heathen on such occasions, are mentioned in the life of Crassus from the pen of Plutarch. The historian states that Atticus, a tribune of the people, made a fire at the gate, out of which thegeneral was to march against the Parthians, into which he threw certain things to make a fume, and offered sacrifice to the most angry gods, with horrid imprecations. These, he says, according to ancient traditions, had such a power, that no man who was loaded with them could avoid being undone.h Under the influence probably of the same opinion, the renowned champion of the Philistines, sure of the favour and protection of his deities, and, consequently, persuaded that his enemies must necessarily be the objects of their displeasure and vengeance, cursed David by his gods, devoting him to utter destruction: And so the Romans used to do, in these words, Dii Deceque perdant.
These preparatory measures taken, the hostile army began its march, and entering the enemy's country, laid it waste with fire and sword. For this
For this purpose, the horsemen spread themselves on every side, dividing themselves into small parties in their dreadful progress, till, if not checked by the timely resistance of the inhabitants, scarcely a single dwelling escaped their indiscriminate ravage. To such a scene of pillage and desolation the prophet Habakkuk evidently refers: “ Their horsemen shall spread themselves; and their horsemen shall come from far.”j The Baron du Tott, in his entertaining work, has given us an account of the manner in which an army of modern Tartars conducted themselves, which serves greatly to illustrate this passage : “ These particulars,” says the Baron, “ informed the cham or prince, and the generals, what their real position was; and it was decided that a third of the army, composed of volunteers, and commanded by a sultan and several mirzas, should pass the river at midnight, divide into several columns, subdivide successively, and thus overspread New Servia, burn the villages, corn, and fodder, and carry off the inhabitants of the country. The rest of the army, in order to follow the plan concerted, marched till they came to the beaten track in the snow made by the detachment. This we followed, till we arrived at the place where it divides into seven branches, to the left of which we constantly kept, observing never to mingle or confuse ourselves with any of the subdivisions which we successively found; and some of which were only small paths, traced by one or two horsemen. Flocks were found frozen to death on the plain, and twenty columns of smoke, already rising in the horizon, completed the horrors of the scene, and announced the fires which had laid waste New Servia." The difficulties which have attended the explanation of this prediction are thus happily removed, and the propriety of the expression fully established.
h Langhorne's Plutarch, vol. iii, p. 440. i Potter's Gr. Antiq. vol. i, p. 69.
j Habak. i, 3.
To restrain the licentiousness and cruelty to which soldiers in general become so prone, God himself expressly forbid the armies of Israel to hurt or cut down the fruit trees to employ them in their works against a besieged city, because they contributed to the support of human life. Such as were not fruit-bearing trees might be cut
Mem. vol. i, p. 466-487.
down to raise bulwarks, or otherwise to distress the enemy; but not merely for the sake of waste and desolation. The Moabites, however, were punished with the utmost rigour by the express command of Jehovah himself, who had a right, when he pleased, to suspend the law which depended upon his own will: “ And this is but a light thing in the sight of the Lord; he will deliver the Moabites also into your hand; and ye shall smite every
fenced city, and every choice city, and shall fell every good tree, and stop all wells of water, and mar every good piece of land with stones." This ancient mode of warfare, which, on ordinary occasions, was forbidden to the Hebrews, is still followed by the Arabs who infest that unhappy country. In their military expeditions they burn the corn, cut down the olive trees, carry off the sheep, and, except taking the life of their enemy, do him all the mischief in
The inhabitants of the invaded country endeavoured to distress their enemies, and force them to retire, by diverting the streams into other channels, and stopping up the wells. To those who inhabit a colder latitude, and live in a country abounding with water, such operations may seem to be a very inefficient means of defence; but in the east, where water is very scarce, and the heat of the climate hardly to be endured, they are often terribly efficacious. It was, therefore, no feeble measure which Hezekiah proposed when Sennacherib invaded his dominions, and threatened to lay siege to his capital, all the fountains, and the brook which ran through the midst of the land.” The same stratagem was again tried in an age long posterior to the times of that excellent monarch ; and it had the effect of reducing an European 1 2 Kings xix, 23.
m Hariner's Observ. vol. iii, p. 213.
66 to stop
army to very great distress. In the eleventh century of the Christian era, the inhabitants of Jerusalem having received advice that the crusaders were advancing to besiege the city, stopped up their wells and cisterns for five or six miles round, that they might be obliged, from the want of water, to desist from their design. This precaution reduced the Christian army to great perplexity and distress, although it did not hinder them from persevering in the siege till they compelled the Saracens to surrender. While the inhabitants had a plentiful supply of water, as well from their cisterns which received the rain of heaven as from the fountains without the walls, the water of which was conveyed by aqueducts into two very large basons within the city, the besiegers were reduced by thirst to the last extremity. The men preserved their lives with great difficulty, by procuring a little water from some fountains at four or five miles distance; but their horses and other cattle died in great numbers, and occasioned a dangerous pestilential contagion."
When the Greeks came within sight of their enemies in the open field, they drew up their whole army in one line, trusting the success of the day to a single onset; while the Romans, who far excelled them in the art of marshalling an army, ranging their hastati, principes, and triarii in distinct bodies behind one another at proper distances, were able, after the defeat of their first line, twice to renew the battle ; and could not be entirely routed till they had lost three several engagemeuts. The armies of Israel seem to have been drawn up in the manner of the Greeks, in one front, prepared to decide the victory by one grand effort.°
n Harmer's Observ. vol. iii, p. 404, 405. • Potter's Grecian Antiq, vol. ii, p. 75.
Immediately before the signal was given, and sometimes in the heat of battle, the general of a Grecian
army made an oration to his troops, in which he briefly stated the motives that ought to animate their bosoms; and exhorted them to exert their utmost force and vigour against the enemy. The success which sometimes attended these harangues was wonderful; the soldiers, animated with fresh life and courage, returned to the charge, retrieved in an instant their affairs which were in a declining and almost desperate condition, and repulsed those very enemies by whom they had been often defeated. Several instances of this might be quoted from Roman and Grecian history, but few are more remarkable than that of Tyrtæus, the lame Athenian poet, to whom the command of the Spartan army was given in one of the Messenian wars. The Spartans had at that time suffered great losses in many encounters; and all their stratagems proved ineffectual, so that they began to despair almost of success, when the poet, by his lectures of honour and courage, delivered in moving verse to the army, ravished them to such a degree with the thoughts of dying for their country, that, rushing on with a furious transport to meet their enemies, they gave them an entire overthrow, and by one decisive battle brought the war to a happy conclusion.P
Such military harangues, especially in very trying circumstances, are perfectly natural, and may be found perhaps in the records of every nation. The history of Joab, the commander-in-chief of David's armies, furnishes a striking instance: “When Joab saw that the front of the battle was against him, before and behind, he chose of all
p Potter's Gr. Antiq. vol. ii, p. 76.