David began a chariot force, but Solomon made it massive and a major weapon. You could forget cavalry because the terrain was too mountainous and there were not enough saddles. So, there was no advantage to cavalry at this time. The only thing you had was an infantry and chariots.
David rode a mule or a donkey because they were smart, sure-footed on the mountain terrain and strong, known for carrying large loads. Horses ran faster and looked better, but were not used until the 8th century because they didn’t need them.
In Zech 9.9, we have all heard of the prophecy about the Messiah riding a donkey. This animal was considered an animal of humility, the kings rode them (Deut 17.16; Gen 49.11; 2 Sam 16.2; 1 Kings 1.33, 38, 44). David was the greatest king (outside of Yeshua) Israel ever had, and the animal that was underneath him was a donkey.
Chariot forces were maintained only by nations with great wealth and resources. Chariot making was a science and an art, but their maintenance was a nightmare. You had to do this in the field. You couldn’t just use any tree limb for a spoke. Iron working was also needed and workshops were needed. During the time of the Judges, Israel had none. It is not surprising because there was no central authority and chariots were a by-product of a strong organization.
During the time of Saul, they didn’t have chariots either. They were doing good to have a sword. Again, there was no central government or organization. Saul’s bodyguard was only a 100 or so, and the army was not equipped very well. Saul’s army controlled the hill country which was not very conducive to chariots. However, the enemy had the plains and this favored chariots. Samuel prophesied that there would be chariots someday (1 Sam 8.11). It is believed that Saul rode in one, with runners called “ratzim” ahead of him to prepare the way. David and Absalom had them also (2 Sam 15.1; 1 Kings 1.5).
In 2 Sam 8.3-4, we learn that David had a great victory and he reserved enough horses from the spoil for 100 chariots. This indicates he had at least 100 chariots which was better than nothing. He also hamstrung the other horses so they could not be used against him again in chariots.
Spiritually, if we defeat the enemy in spiritual warfare, we need to “hamstring” him so he can’t come back again. This was a major complaint in Desert Storm, we didn’t go far enough. Joshua did not complete his task of defeating the nations in Canaan. The people grew tired of war after only seven years, and those nations that were left contributed to Israel’s downfall and expulsion years later. Saul didn’t “take out Agag” and that produced a Haman later.
In spiritual warfare, if you don’t take your enemy “out” and incapacitate him, he will come back again. Here is a more modern example. In 1874, the United States defeated the Kiowa, Comanche, Cheyenne and Arapaho nations. Do you know how many soldiers were lost in the battle? Two, after all those years of fighting, wars and death. Here is what happened.
Col R.S. McKenzie discovered these tribes were camped in a canyon at night. He sent soldiers in, and by dawn they were discovered and four were killed. They captured the pony herd and this was no big deal because they did it all the time. Then the Indians would steal them back again, plus the horses of the soldiers. This was a big game till now. They kept fighting the same battles. McKenzie had enough of it, so he took the horses from this canyon to another canyon and shot them. This put the Indian tribes on foot. They couldn’t steal them back, hunt, run or fight. Every tribe surrendered and the war was over.
David did the same thing. He did not keep all the chariot horses he was not equipped to handle. He would have been ineffective. So, he only kept what he could use and handle at the time.
In another example, Ahitophel was David’s counselor and the grandfather of Bathsheba. He turned to Absalom and began to advise him against David. Hushai is David’s friend, and when David left the city he wanted Hushai to stay behind and hinder the counsel of Ahitophel against David (2 Sam 15.30-37). Ahitophel has a good plan to get David, and kill him, but Hushai, knowing Absalom was a murderer, appealed to his pride (2 Sam 17.11-12) by saying that Absalom should lead them to victory and kill them all.
Hushai knew all the while that David’s men were better warriors. Absalom accepted the counsel of Hushai in 2 Sam 17.14, and Absalom tried to handle more than he was capable of, and he was destroyed right in the midst of it all.
By the time of Solomon, all this will change as far as the chariot force. Unlike his father David, who only had horses for 100 chariots, Solomon builds on this. He has had a time of peace, something David didn’t have, so he can build the “factories” and the stables to train charioteers. His force will be equal to any in the region. David’s chariots were manned by two men, with two horses and made like the Canaanite chariots. It will not be till late 9th and early 8th century BC when three man chariots are used.
Chariots were used for two purposes. They were mobile firing platforms and they made frontal assaults to engage troops at short range, for shock value. 1 Kings 4.26 tells us that Israel had entered into major chariot production.
2 Chr 9.25 says that there were special “chariot cities” in Israel set up by Solomon. Jerusalem, Sukkot, Hazor, Megiddo and Gezer were some of the main ones and from these cities chariots could cover the land. He has a sizable chariot force, estimated at around 1400 (2 Chr 1.14). As we go on, we’ll see massive chariot forces by the 8th century BC.
Ancient warfare was a slow developing situation with a large army. First, there was the call to arms, you had to wait for the right season, move your army and position them for battle. All this may take months and there was a time element involved in getting your forces together. They had to walk, and finish up their personal business, especially if you were a farmer because you had planting and reaping to do.
Solomon spread out his chariot force so he would have a sizable force wherever he needed them, if he was surprised by a small force (a large force couldn’t surprise you). Solomon has also become a trader in chariots and we see the beginning of cavalry (2 Chr 1.16-17). This will be a little more sophisticated than in David’s time, when mules were used (2 Sam 18.6-9). The horses would have a bridle, but no saddle or stir-ups. Firing ability was limited and the rider was equipped with a helmet, a sling and shield that was shouldered. Hands were free for reins and a weapon.
When it came to fortifications at this time, Solomon was one of the greatest builders in the Tanach. He fortified and rebuilt cities like Hazor, Megiddo and Gezer (1 Kings 9.15). We are told that he built cities for chariots, horses and storage. These cities and stables were built by the same architect around 920 BC because the gates and walls were the same, only the terrain was different. The gates of the future Messianic Temple in Ezek 40.5-15 have the exact same measurements as the gates at Megiddo, Gezer and Hazor.
There are six gates leading into the Temple. Solomon in Hebrew is “Shlomo” and it means “peace” and “peace” is an idiom for the Messianic Kingdom. Prince of Peace is a Messianic Title. The six gates relate to the 6000 years to the Messianic Kingdom, which relates to the inner courts. We learn from Ezek 43.10-12 that the dimensions of the Temple teach us about the future.
Here is another thing we learn. In Solomon’s reign we have peace, but he also had great defenses. He fortified cities even while he was at peace. Nobody would mess with him. Spiritually, we must build strong “fortifications” so nobody will attack us. Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons and other cults won’t bother you. Mormons will go down the street and stop at every house except yours. Many believers will avoid you also, sad to say, and use a variety of excuses. But they know you were right about something and don’t want any trouble.
Now, Solomon’s fortifications were built with towers and recesses we have talked about before, usually twin towers. Casemate walls were 16 feet thick, which was very think for casemate walls. These three cities of Hazor, Megiddo and Gezer were destroyed by Pharaoh Shishak in the reign of Rehoboam, Solomon’s son (2 Chr 12.1-12; 1 Kings 14.25-28). They only lasted about 30 to 40 years, and it tells us that the Egyptians had a powerful battering ram. Casemate walls will be abandoned and new city walls will be built. Casemate walls will still be used in the inner citadel or isolated fortresses where the inner chambers are used mainly for storage.
The most radical example of this is Masada. Herod built this 100’s of years after casemate walls were abandoned and it was “outdated” was one of the main reasons Masada fell to the Romans.
As we have said before, Solomon’s reign was peaceful, but after him, starting with Rehoboam, everything changes. Powers in the north and the south are rising and the battleground is Israel.
There is civil war between Judah and Israel, giving Pharaoh Shishak the incentive to invade. He brought at least 1200 chariots (2 Chr 12.1-3) and the first place he hit was Sukkot. He did this because he wanted to isolate Jerusalem, who would receive no help from the second largest base in the land. So, he attacked Sukkot, the lesser enemy, before attacking the stronger enemy in Jerusalem. He took the cautious road, not the fastest. He also cut off any place of refuge for people to flee to, and be able to hold out. He could then use it as a base for himself to attack Jerusalem and not be spread out too thin.
From Sukkot he moved to Megiddo, then down the coast. Then he sent out assault battalions from firm bases, destroying existing defenses. But after this, newer and better fortifications were built. Spiritually, when we get hard and lose, and the enemy “pulls out” we need to assess the reasons why and build up stronger defenses than before. Iron Age I ends with Solomon and Iron Age II begins with Rehoboam. Massive changes have occurred in warfare.
In Part 16, we will begin to talk about Iron Age II and the Assyrians, who are a picture of the Russian army in the last days. Then, after learning all about the Assyrian, we will draw some very important spiritual warfare lessons out of it. We have already shown you how to identify a “Hittite” and “Philistine” battle in your life, now we will start giving you some concepts that will help you identify an “Assyrian” battle in your life.