War in the Biblical age was not declared in the same fashion as it is today. Ordinarily, the commander and his armies pitch camp in the enemy’s country to show the strength of the military and would issue certain terms and conditions that would avert possible conflict if they were met. Such term would be acknowledging the king of the enemy country as the overall ruler and paying taxes and tribute to the same king. The Israeli had clear rules of laying a siege in a foreign country that involved offering peace terms. If the terms were accepted the citizens would be put to forced labor and their towns occupied. If the terms were rejected and war ensued, and they were finally defeated, then men would be called to death and children, women, and property would be taken and shared among the victors.
Egyptian Pursuit of the Israeli Exodus (Exodus 14)
After years of slavery, the time came for the Israelites to return back to their ancestral home in the Promised Land. When the last plague that killed all the Egyptians firstborn while sparing Israelites, Pharaoh said he had had enough with the slaves so he sent them free. After their departure, Pharaoh changed his mind and wanted the slaves back. By this time God had already ordered the Israelites to build a camp facing the north so that Pharaoh would think that the desert had confused the Israelites. When Pharaoh saw the stranded Israelites, he became bold and came after them. At the same time, God ordered Moses to stretch his hand over the sea and separate the waters to create a dry ground for the Israelites. The column of smoke guarding the Israelites moved behind them alongside Moses and the people crossed. Pharaoh and all his horses, and chariots followed suit. As soon as all the armies were in the water, God ordered Moses to merge the waters at daybreak, and the waters drowned Pharaoh and his armies. God fought the battle for the Israelites.
Battle of Gibeon (Joshua 10)
After crossing the Red Sea, the Israelites matched into the Promised Land in Canaan. To their surprise, the Canaanites had already inhabited the lands. When the Canaanites saw the invaders, they gathered their armies and prepared to annihilate the Israelites. Joshua, the leader of the Israelites, ordained by God himself was skilled in the art of war. He talked and confirmed the approach tactics to God. That night in utter darkness the Israel army matched an eighteen to twenty miles climb of an elevation of more than 1,000 meters to the enemy camp. With no sleep or food, the Israelites made a surprise attack on the sleeping army of Canaanites. In the wake of panic the enemy fled and Joshua and his troops were able to pursue them from every direction. Before the end of the day, the Israelites had covered a distance of forty miles. Those who survived the slaughter ran into the heaven-sent hailstorms.
Battle of Aphek (1 Samuel 4)
The fight against the Philistines for the Ark of the Covenant was a remarkable fight. In this battle, the Israelite, famed for their earlier victories over their enemies, lost to the Philistines because they believed more in the Ark than in God. In the first round of fighting, the Philistines killed 4,000 men. After the defeat, the people of Israeli went to seek the Ark from Shiloh as they believed the presence of the Ark of the Covenant would protect them and bring victory. Contrary to their belief and their little faith in Jehovah, a God who had fought their battles, killed the Egyptians with numerous plagues and led them through the Red Sea to Jericho, resulted in a significant defeat. The Philistines killed 300,000 soldiers of Israeli’s infantry because they fought for freedom and not believe of a mystic instrument. Besides, the Israelites lost the sons of Eli, who was an important Israelite priest, and the Ark of the Covenant.
Battle of Socoh (1 Samuel 17)
The story of how the young David killed Goliath the Giant in the fight at Socoh is perhaps the most memorable battle in the Biblical history of Israeli. David was underestimated but a confident competitor. Goliath on the hand was big and tall, but sometimes significant advantages usually mask more major disadvantages. Goliath was dressed in bronze from head to toe, had a spear and javelin that scared all the Israelites. David refused to wear armor because he knew that armor only wears the warrior down. With his sling in hand and stone, he killed the giant. The sling was a lethal weapon employed by armies at war. The stopping power of the stone that left David’s sling is equal to that of a power gun and which ruptured and crushed Goliath's skull. The Israelites pursued the Philistines and killed them so that the corpses were strewn from the Shaaraim Road to Gath and Ekron. David cut off the head of the dead giant and took it to the king.
Faith and Strategy in Battle
The Israelis used to divide their armies into two parties for carrying out an ambush, and three groups in the event of open air battles. From the very beginning, God was faithful to those who believed in Him. He alone was the greatest weapons Israel had over their enemies. The Israelis and the Bible record that victory was given to those who obeyed God. Whenever the Israelis disobeyed God, He shunned and disgraced them, but when they sought his face, he gave them victory after victory.
What is the Biggest Battle in Biblical History?
Some of the most famous battles in biblical history include the Battle of Jericho, the Battle of Aphek, the Battle of Mizpah, and the Battle of Jabesh-Gilead.
|Greatest Battles in Ancient Israeli and Biblical History||Biblical Referenc or Historical Date|
|Battle of Siddim||Genesis 14|
|Egyptian Pursuit of the Israeli Exodus||Exodus 14|
|Battle of Rephidim||Exodus 17 and Deuteronomy 25|
|Battle of Hormah||Numbers 14|
|Battle of Jericho||Joshua 5|
|Battles of Ai||Joshua 7 and 8|
|Battle of Gibeon||Joshua 10|
|Battle of Shechem||Joshua 8 and 9|
|Battle of Zaphon||Joshua 12|
|Battle of Gibeah||Judges 19-21|
|Battle of Aphek||1 Samuel 4|
|Battle of Mizpah||1 Samuel 7|
|Battle of Jabesh-Gilead||1 Samuel 11|
|Battle of Micmash||1 Samuel 13 and 14|
|Battle of Amalek||1 Samuel 15|
|Battle of Socoh||1 Samuel 17|
|Battle of Keilah||1 Samuel 23|
|Battle of Mount Gilboa||1 Samuel 28 and 1 Chronicles 10|
|Battle of Mahanaim||2 Samuel 4|
|Battle of Rabbah||2 Samuel 10 and 1 Chronicles 19 and 20|
|Battle of Ramoth-Gilead||1 Kings 22 and 2 Chronicles 18 and 19|
|Battle of Samaria||2 Kings 6 and 7|
|Battle of Elath||2 Kings 16 and 2 Chronicles 28|
|Assyrian Invasion||2 Kings 15 and 17|
|Egyptian Invasion||1 Kings 14 and 2 Chronicles 12|
|Defeat of the Cushites (Ethiopians)||2 Chronicles 14|
|Battle of Zoar||2 Kings 8 and 2 Chronicles 21|
|Battle of the Valley of Salt||2 Kings 12 and 14 and 2 Chronicles 24 and 25|
|Rebellion in Gaza||2 Kings 18|
|Battle of Lachish||2 Kings 18 and 19, 2 Chronicles 32, and Isaiah 36 and 37|
|Battle of Jezreel Valley||2 Kings 23 and 2 Chronicles 35|
|Fall of Jerusalem to Babylon||2 Kings 25, 2 Chronicles 36, Jeremiah 52, and Daniel 1|
|Battle of Mount Zemaraim||2 Chronicles 13|
|Battle of Beth-Shemesh||2 Chronicles 25|
|Greek Conquests||4th Century BC|
|Battle of Paneas||198 BC|
|Maccabean Revolt||2nd Century BC|
|Roman Capture of Jerusalem||63 BC|
|Jewish Revolt against Rome||66 AD|
|Roman Siege of Jerusalem||70 AD|
|Battle of Bethar (Bar Kokhba Revolt)||135 AD|
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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