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What is War?
     From the nature of the arms and the customs of the ancients, their battles were truly murderous. Scarcely ever was any quarter given, except where the vanquished was retained as a slave, and consequently the number of killed was often immense. 2 Chr 13:17. Although the military art was comparatively simple, yet ingenious stratagems of various kinds were practised. Enemies were then, as now, surprised and overcome by unexpected divisions of the forces, by ambushes, and by false retreats. Gen 14:15; Josh 8:12; Judg 20:36-39; 2 Kgs 7:12. In lack of artillery, unwieldy machines for casting heavy stones and other destructive missiles were invented. We find, however, little allusion to these in the Bible. About the end of the ninth or the beginning of the eighth century before Christ, Uzziah "made in Jerusalem engines invented by cunning men. to be on the towers and upon the bulwarks, to shoot arrows and great stones withal." 2 Chr 26:15. A siege was thus conducted: All the trees in the neighborhood were cut down and used in the construction of field fortifications. Deut 20:20. "Mounts" or "banks" in the direction of the city were thrown up, and gradually increased in height until they were half as high as the city's wall. 2 Sam 20:15; 2 Kgs 19:32. The next step was to erect towers on the top of these banks. 2 Kgs 25:1. These steps taken, the siege was commenced in earnest. The water-supplies of the besieged were, as far as possible, cut off: intercourse with neighboring towns or villages was ended. Thus starvation must eventually set in in the doomed city. But use was made of other measures than these passive ones. The towers spoken of bristled with armed men. Archers and slingers incessantly fired at the soldiers upon the wall. Battering-rams, which see, hammered against the gates or walls; scaling-ladders were placed against the walls; the gates were even at times fired. Jud 9:52. But the besieged had weapons also. Huge stones were hurled with terrible effect from the walls. Boiling oil. rings heated red hot, - these were employed to cripple the foe. Sallies were made to burn the besiegers' works or to drive them away. Jud 9:53; 2 Sam 11:21. But there was no part of the ancient military preparations more terrible than chariots. Ex 14:7; Deut 20:1; Josh 17:16; Jud 4:3. They were in common use wherever there was any cavalry. 2 Sam 10:18; 1 Chr 18:4; 2 Chr 12:3; 2 Chr 14:9. See Chariot. Walls and towers were used in fortifications, and the latter were guarded by soldiers, and are called "garrisons." 2 Sam 8:6; Eze 26:11. See Ward. As to the order of battle we have no certain knowledge. The prophet alludes to it. Jer 12:5. Among all ancient nations it was customary to take previous refreshment of food, in order to give strength to the army. The soldiers, and especially the commanders, arrayed themselves in their costliest garments and fairest armor, except in cases where disguise was attempted. 1 Kgs 22:30. Various passages lead to the opinion that divisions of the army were common, as in modern times. Gen 14:15; Jud 7:16; 1 Sam 11:11. The most frequent division of the host was into tens, hundreds, and thousands, and each of these had its commander or captain. Jud 20:10; 1 Sam 8:12; 2 Kgs 11:4. Among the Hebrews these divisions had some reference to the several families, and were under the heads of families as their officers. 2 Chr 25:5; 2 Chr 26:12. The captains of hundreds and of thousands were of high rank, or (so to speak) staff-officers, who were admitted to share in the councils of war. 1 Chr 13:1. The whole army had its commander-in-chief or captain, who was over the host, and its scribe, or keeper of the muster-roll. 1 Kgs 4:4; 1 Chr 18:15-16; 1 Chr 27:32-34; 2 Chr 17:14; 2 Chr 26:11. In Isa 33:18 the words translated "he that counted the towers" probably indicate what we should call a chief-engineer. Under David the army of 288,000 men was divided into twelve corps, each of Egyptian Troops in Ranks. (From Monuments at Thebes.) which was consequently 24,000 strong and had its own general. 1 Chr 27. Under Jehoshaphat this was altered, and there were five unequal corps, under as many commanders. 2 Chr 17:14-19. The cohort had five hundred or six hundred men, and the legion embraced ten cohorts. The light troops were provided with arms which they used at some distance from the enemy, such as bows and arrows. They are designated in 2 Chr 14:8; while the heavy-armed were those who bore shield and spear. 1 Chr 12:24. The light troops of the army of Asa were taken principally from the tribe of Benjamin because of their extraordinary accuracy of aim. Jud 20:16. See Armor, Arms. Kings and generals had armor- bearers, selected from the bravest of their favorites, who not only carried their armor, which was in those days a necessary service, but stood by them in the hour of danger, carried their orders, and were not unlike modern adjutants. 1 Sam 31:4. The troops were excited to ardor and bravery by addresses from their priests, who were commanded to appeal to them. Deut 20:2. In later times kings themselves were accustomed to harangue their armies. 2 Chr 13:4. Finally (perhaps after the sacrifices had been offered), the summons was given by the holy trumpets. Num 10:9-10; 2 Chr 13:12-14. It was the practice of the Greeks, when they were within half a mile of the enemy, to sing their war-song. A similar custom probably prevailed among the Jews. 2 Chr 20:21. Next followed the shout, or war-cry. which the Romans accompanied with the noise of shields and spears struck violently together. This war-cry was common in the East, as it is to this day among the Turks. It was the "alarm" or "shout" so often mentioned in Scripture. 1 Sam 17:52; 2 Chr 13:15; Job 39:25; Jer 4:19. War, like slavery and all forms of violence, is a consequence of sin; it is organized cruelty and wholesale murder; as Gen. Moltke ("the thinker of battles") says, even a victorious war is a great national calamity; but it is overruled for good by that all-wise Providence which maketh the wrath of man to praise him. Christianity was introduced into the world by the angelic announcement of "on earth peace, good-will toward men." It has done much to prevent the passions of war, to mitigate its horrors, to counteract its evils by individual and organized care of the sick, the wounded, and the prisoners, to encourage the settlement of international disputes by peaceful arbitration (as in the Alabama difficulty, which threatened war between England and the United States, but was peacefully adjusted by the Geneva tribunal Dec, 1871). and it looks forward to the time when men "shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning-hooks, when nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." Isa 2:4; Mic 4:3; Joel 3:10; Rev 21:3-4.

Bibliography Information
Schaff, Philip, Dr. "Biblical Definition for 'war' in Schaffs Bible Dictionary". - Schaff's

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