Chariots on Fire: Military Dominance in the Old Testament

in Horizons in Biblical Theology
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The Hebrew Bible from Exodus to Zechariah communicates Yahweh’s deep displeasure with military self-reliance, of which the symbol is the chariot. The primary criterion of justified war in the Old Testament is trust in Yahweh’s miracle rather than in the strength of chariots and horses, for which Joshua 11 serves as a paradigm. The exodus, conquest of Canaan, failed monarchic experiment, Psalms, and prophets all emphasize God’s opposition to military technology. Not simply a matter of pride or idolatry, weapons of domination are incompatible with the radical social experiment God intends Israel to be.




Brueggemann, Social Reading, 300-304.


Barrick and Ringgren, “רכב”, 489.


Anup Shah, “World Military Spending,” Global Issues, 2 May 2011 (accessed 3 Jun. 2011), <>. Shah draws his data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute Military Expenditure Database.


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