The Israelites marched out of Egypt in military order ( Exodus 13:18 , "harnessed;" marg., "five in a rank"). Each tribe formed a battalion, with its own banner and leader ( Numbers 2:2 ; 10:14 ). In war the army was divided into thousands and hundreds under their several captains ( Numbers 31:14 ), and also into families ( Numbers 2:34 ; 2 Chr 25:5 ; 26:12 ). From the time of their entering the land of Canaan to the time of the kings, the Israelites made little progress in military affairs, although often engaged in warfare. The kings introduced the custom of maintaining a bodyguard (the Gibborim; i.e., "heroes"), and thus the nucleus of a standing army was formed. Saul had an army of 3,000 select warriors ( 1 Samuel 13:2 ; 14:52 ; 24:2 ). David also had a band of soldiers around him ( 1 Samuel 23:13 ; 25:13 ). To this band he afterwards added the Cherethites and the Pelethites ( 2 Samuel 15:18 ; 20:7 ). At first the army consisted only of infantry ( 1 Samuel 4:10 ; 15:4 ), as the use of horses was prohibited ( Deuteronomy 17:16 ); but chariots and horses were afterwards added ( 2 Samuel 8:4 ; 1 Kings 10:26 1 Kings 10:28 1 Kings 10:29 ; 1 Kings 9:19 ). In 1 Kings 9:22 there is given a list of the various gradations of rank held by those who composed the army. The equipment and maintenance of the army were at the public expense ( 2 Samuel 17:28 2 Samuel 17:29 ; 1 Kings 4:27 ; 1 Kings 10:16 1 Kings 10:17 ; Judges 20:10 ). At the Exodus the number of males above twenty years capable of bearing arms was 600,000 ( Exodus 12:37 ). In David's time it mounted to the number of 1,300,000 ( 2 Samuel 24:9 ).
M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition,
published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain, copy freely.
[B] indicates this entry was also found in Baker's Evangelical Dictionary
[S] indicates this entry was also found in Smith's Bible Dictionary
Bibliography InformationEaston, Matthew George. "Entry for Army". "Easton's Bible Dictionary".