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English Bible Dictionary

Chariot

 

A vehicle used either for warlike or peaceful purposes, but most commonly the former. The Jewish chariots were patterned after the Egyptian, and consisted of a single pair of wheels on an axle, upon which was a car with high front and sides, but open at the back. The earliest mention of chariots in Scripture is in Egypt, where Joseph, as a mark of distinction, was placed in Pharaoh's second chariot. (Genesis 41:43) Later on we find mention of Egyptian chariots for a warlike purpose. (Exodus 14:7) In this point of view chariots among some nations of antiquity, as elephants among others, may be regarded as filling the place of heavy artillery in modern times, so that the military power of a nation might be estimated by the number of its chariots. Thus Pharaoh in pursuing Israel took with him 600 chariots. The Philistines in Saul's time had 30,000. (1 Samuel 13:5) David took from Hadadezer, king of Zobah, 1000 chariots, (2 Samuel 8:4) and from the Syrians a little later 700, (2 Samuel 10:18) who in order to recover their ground, collected 32,000 chariots. (1 Chronicles 19:7) Up to this time the Israelites possessed few or no chariots, and you can find more about that here on st-takla.org on other commentaries and dictionary entries. They were first introduced by David, (2 Samuel 8:4) who raised and maintained a force of 1400 chariots, (1 Kings 10:25) by taxation on certain cities agreeably to eastern custom in such matters. (1 Kings 9:19; 10:25) From this time chariots were regarded as among the most important arms of war. (1 Kings 22:34; 2 Kings 9:16,21; 13:7,14; 18:24; 23:30; Isaiah 31:1) Most commonly two persons, and sometimes three, rode in the chariot, of whom the third was employed to carry the state umbrella. (1 Kings 22:34; 2 Kings 9:20,24; Acts 8:38) The prophets allude frequently to chariots as typical of power. (Psalms 20:7; 104:3; Jeremiah 51:21; Zechariah 6:1)

 

* See also: Wagon, Cart.

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