[b-hebrew] Horses, Chariots, Cavalry, and Mounted Infantry

David Kimbrough (CLWA) dkimbrough at clwa.org
Mon Mar 29 11:45:50 EST 2004

1) In ancient times "horses" were quite a bit smaller than the modern horse,
if a one us were to see those horses we would call the "ponies".  It was
quite possible to sit on the back of those ponies and have the feet of an
adult man touch the ground.  In this situation, there is no military
advantage to riding a pony  into battle, a technique used by "cavalry".

2) More commonly, ponies, onagers, and donkeys were ridden to the battle
scene but the solders dismounted to fight.  This gave the solders the
advantage of greater mobility and speed (and surprise) in positioning
themselves for battle.  These are more properly referred to as "mounted
infantry" or "dragoons".  They could be used as couriers as well.

3) In contrast, a chariot raises the combatant above his enemies and keeps
the enemy away from the driver and rider (!).  Further, the rider can charge
into the enemy while firing arrows with the driver guiding the ponies.  An
ancient version of the modern "tank".

4) Cavalry proper requires that solders to remain mounted while fighting,
usually with a spear, lance, or sword but some folk could ride and fire an
arrow.  This was not achieved until the stirrup was invented and larger
horses were bred that could bear the full weight of a man and armor.  This
was many centuries later.

Egyptians of the New Kingdom did not have large enough horses or stirrups so
it is unlikely they rode their horses in the manner modern readers are
thinking about.  Nonetheless, it is possible that the Egyptian "cavalry"
rode their ponies (bare backed and less-less) after the fleeing Hebrews, not
with intention of "riding them down", but of dismounting to kill them.

David Eugene Kimbrough

-----Original Message-----
From: Dora Smith [mailto:villandra at austin.rr.com]
Sent: Sunday, March 28, 2004 7:39 AM
To: b-hebrew list
Subject: [b-hebrew] quesiton about Song of the Sea

Were different parts of the Song of the Sea written at different times?
Its general style is 12th century.  It contains the oldest and most basic
version of the story of the death of Pharaoh's army in the Red Sea.

Our leader in our bible study class Wednesday said that in those days
everyone in the Near East, certainly Pharaho's armies, used horsedrawn
chariots, not rode horses, and that noone rode horses until the 8th century.
I don't know if this is true.    But I sure would have expected Pharaoh's
horses to have been mainly pulling chariots - unless the passages taht talk
about horse and rider actually mean something else or have another origin.

Dora Smith
Austin, Texas
villandra at austin.rr.com

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