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Bible Dictionaries

Smith's Bible Dictionary

War

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War. The most important topic in connection with war is the formation of the army which is destined to carry it on. See Army. In 1 Kings 9:22, at a period (Solomon's reign) when the organization of the army was complete, we have apparently a list of the various gradations of rank in the service, as follows:

1. "Men of war" = privates;

2. "servants," the lowest rank of officers = lieutenants;

3. "princes" = captains;

4. "captains," perhaps = staff officers;

5. "rulers of the chariots and his horsemen" = cavalry officers.

Formal proclamations of war were not interchanged between the belligerents. Before entering the enemy's district, spies were sent to ascertain the character of the country and the preparations of its inhabitants for resistance. Numbers 13:17; Joshua 2:1; Judges 7:10; 1 Samuel 26:4. The combat assumed the form of a number of hand-to-hand contests; hence, the high value attached to fleetness of foot and strength of arm. 2 Samuel 1:23; 2 Samuel 2:18; 1 Chronicles 12:8. At the same time, various strategic devices were practiced, such as the ambuscade, Joshua 8:2; Joshua 8:12; Judges 20:36, surprise, Judges 7:16, or circumvention. 2 Samuel 5:23.

Another mode of settling the dispute was by the selection of champions, 1 Samuel 17; 2 Samuel 2:14, who were spurred on to exertion by the offer of high reward. 1 Samuel 17:25; 1 Samuel 18:25; 2 Samuel 18:11; 1 Chronicles 11:6. The contest having been decided, the conquerors were recalled from the pursuit by the sound of a trumpet. 2 Samuel 2:28; 2 Samuel 18:16; 2 Samuel 20:22.

The siege of a town or fortress was conducted in the following manner: A line of circumvallation was drawn round the place, Ezekiel 4:2; Micah 5:1, constructed out of the trees found in the neighborhood, Deuteronomy 20:20, together with earth and any other materials at hand. This line not only cut off the besieged from the surrounding country, but also served as a base of operations for the besiegers.

The next step was to throw out, from this line, one or more mounds or "banks" in the direction of the city, 2 Samuel 20:15; 2 Kings 19:32; Isaiah 37:33, which were gradually increased in height until they were about half as high as the city wall. On this mound or bank, towers were erected, 2 Kings 25:1; Jeremiah 52:4; Ezekiel 4:2; Ezekiel 17:17; Ezekiel 21:22; Ezekiel 26:8, whence, the slingers and archers might attack with effect.

Catapults were prepared for hurling large darts and stones; and the crow, a long spar, with iron claws at one end and ropes at the other, to pull down stones or men from the top of the wall. Battering-rams, Ezekiel 4:2; Ezekiel 21:22, were brought up to the walls by means of the bank, and scaling-ladders might also be placed on it.

The treatment of the conquered was extremely severe in ancient times. The bodies of the soldiers killed in action were plundered, 1 Samuel 31:8 2 Maccabees 8:27; the survivors were either killed in some savage manner, Judges 9:45; 2 Samuel 12:31; 2 Chronicles 25:12, mutilated, Judges 9:45; 2 Samuel 12:31; 2 Chronicles 25:12 mutilated, Judges 1:6; 1 Samuel 11:2, or carried into captivity. Numbers 31:26.

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Bibliography Information
Smith, William, Dr. Entry for 'War'. Smith's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/sbd/w/war.html. 1901.

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