a vehicle generally used for warlike purposes. Sometimes, though but rarely, it is spoken of as used for peaceful purposes.
The first mention of the chariot is when Joseph, as a mark of distinction, was placed in Pharaoh's second state chariot (Ge 41:43); and the next, when he went out in his own chariot to meet his father Jacob (Ge 46:29). Chariots formed part of the funeral procession of Jacob (Ge 50:9). When Pharaoh pursued the Israelites he took 600 war-chariots with him (Ex 14:7). The Canaanites in the valleys of Palestine had chariots of iron (Jos 17:18; Jg 1:19). Jabin, the king of Canaan, had 900 chariots (Jg 4:3); and in Saul's time the Philistines had 30,000. In his wars with the king of Zobah and with the Syrians, David took many chariots among the spoils (2Sa 8:4; 10:18). Solomon maintained as part of his army 1,400 chariots (1Ki 10:26), which were chiefly imported from Egypt (1Ki 10:29). From this time forward they formed part of the armies of Israel (1Ki 22:34; 2Ki 9:16,21; 13:7,14; 18:24; 23:30).
This word is sometimes used figuratively for hosts (Ps 68:17; 2Ki 6:17). Elijah, by his prayers and his counsel, was "the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof." The rapid agency of God in the phenomena of nature is also spoken of under the similitude of a chariot (Ps 104:3; Isa 66:15; Hab 3:8).
Chariot of the cherubim (1Ch 28:18), the chariot formed by the two cherubs on the mercy-seat on which the Lord rides.
Chariot cities were set apart for storing the war-chariots in time of peace (2Ch 1:14).
Chariot horses were such as were peculiarly fitted for service in chariots (2Ki 7:14).
Chariots of war are described in Ex 14:7; 1Sa 13:5; 2Sa 8:4; 1Ch 18:4; Jos 11:4; Jg 4:3,13. They were not used by the Israelites till the time of David. Elijah was translated in a "chariot of fire" (2Ki 2:11). Comp. 2Ki 6:17. This vision would be to Elisha a source of strength and encouragement, for now he could say, "They that be with us are more than they that be with them."
Illustration: War Chariots
Chariot, sometimes including the horses (2Sa 8:4; 10:18). Mentioned first in Ge 41:43, where Joseph rides in Pharaoh's second chariot; also Ge 46:29. In the Egyptian monuments they occur to the number of 27,000 in records of the reign of Rameses II, 1300 B.C., and even earlier in the 18th dynasty 1530 B.C., when Amosis I used them against the shepherd kings. A leading purpose of chariots was war. Pharaoh followed Israel with 600 chosen chariots (Ex 14:7). The Canaanites of the valleys armed theirs apparently with iron scythes (Jos 17:18; Jg 1:19). Jabin had 900, which enabled him to "oppress the children of Israel mightily," because of their sins (Jg 4:3). The Philistines in Saul's time had 30,000 (1Sa 13:5). David took from Hadarezer of Zobah 1,000, and from the Syrians 700; these to retrieve their loss gathered 32,000 (1Ch 19:7).
God forbad their use to His people, lest they should depend on human help rather than on Him (De 17:16; 20:1; Ps 20:7), also lest there should be a turning of the elect nation's heart back to Egypt and its corrupt ways. Solomon from carnal state policy allied himself to Egypt, and disregarded God's prohibition, as Samuel foretold would be the case if Israel, not content with God, should set up a human king (1Sa 8:11-12). Solomon had 1,400 chariots, and bought each out of Egypt at 600 shekels of silver, and a horse for 150; and taxed certain cities for the cost, according to eastern usage (1Ki 9:19; 10:26,29). In Ex 14:7 translate "captains (literally, men of the king's council of 30) over the whole of them." Not as some thought, "third men in every one of them."
For the Egyptian chariots only carried two, the driver and the warrior. The Assyrian chariots (Na 2:3-4) depicted on the monuments often contain a third, namely, the warrior's shieldbearer. In Ex 14:9 "horsemen" are mentioned. Hengstenberg thinks rekeb does not mean cavalry, as they are not depicted in the Egyptian monuments, but merely "riders in chariots." But Diodorus Siculus states that Rameses II had 24,000 cavalry. Egyptian art seems even in later times, when certainly cavalry were employed, to have avoided depicting horsemen. The language of Ex 15:1; Isa 31:1, can be reconciled with either view. Ancient papyri allude to mounting on horseback (Cook, in Speaker's Commentary). The men in the chariot always stood.
The Egyptian chariot consisted of a semicircular frame of wood with straight sides, resting on the axle-tree of a pair of wheels; and on the frame a rail attached by leather thongs; one wooden upright in front; open at the back for mounting. On the right side the bowcase and the quiver and spearcase crossed diagonally. The horses wore only breastband and girths attached to the saddle, and a bearing rein fastened to a ring in front of it. In New Testament the only chariots mentioned are that of the Ethiopian eunuch of Candace (Ac 8:28-29,38), and Re 9:9. The Persians sacrificed horses to the sun; so the Jews under the idolatrous Manasseh dedicated chariots and horses to the sun (2Ki 23:11). Josiah burned these chariots with fire, thus making the object of their superstition, fire, to consume their instruments of worship.
The original home of the chariot was Western Asia, from which it passed to Egypt and other countries. In OT chariots are associated mainly with war-like operations, although they also appear not infrequently as the 'carriages,' so to say, of kings, princes, and high dignitaries (Ge 50:9; 2Ki 5:9; Jer 17:25; cf. Ac 8:28 ff. the case of the Ethiopian eunuch) in times of peace. When royal personages drove in state, they were preceded by a body of 'runners' (2Sa 15:1; 1Ki 1:5).
The war chariot appears to have been introduced among the Hebrews by David (2Sa 8:4 Septuagint), but it did not become part of the organized military equipment of the State till the reign of Solomon. This monarch is said to have organized a force of 1400 chariots (1Ki 10:26; 2Ch 1:14), which he distributed among the principal cities of his realm (1Ki 9:19; 10:26). At this time, also, a considerable trade sprang up in connexion with the importation of chariots and horses. It was not from Egypt, however, which was never a horse-breeding country, that these were imported as stated in the corrupt text of 1Ki 10:28 f., but from two districts of Asia Minor, in the region of Cappadocia and Cilicia, named Musri and Ku
Except in Cant. 3:9, where the word is appiryon and signifies 'sedan, portable couch,' the chariots were vehicles with two wheels, used either for travelling or for war: they are often seen portrayed on Egyptian and Assyrian monuments. Ge 41:43; 50:9; 1Ki 4:26; Eze 23:24; Ac 8:28; Re 9:9. In Re 18:13 the word is ????, and some describe it as a vehicle with four wheels. The CHARIOT MAN in 2Ch 18:33 is the driver, as in 1Ki 22:34. A CHARIOT OF FIRE and horses of fire appeared when Elijah was carried up into heaven. 2Ki 2:11-12. When the king of Syria sought to take Elisha at Dothan he was protected by invisible chariots of fire. 2Ki 6:17.
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.
Later on we find mention of Egyptian chariots for a warlike purpose.
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.
David took from Hadadezer, king of Zobah, 1000 chariots,
and from the Syrians a little later 700,
who in order to recover their ground, collected 32,000 chariots.
Up to this time the Israelites possessed few or no chariots. They were first introduced by David,
who raised and maintained a force of 1400 chariots,
by taxation on certain cities agreeably to eastern custom in such matters.
From this time chariots were regarded as among the most important arms of war.
Most commonly two persons, and sometimes three, rode in the chariot, of whom the third was employed to carry the state umbrella.
The prophets allude frequently to chariots as typical of power.