Chariots were one of the earliest forms of land vehicle. The ancient version had two wheels, a small floor, and a waist-high semi-circular shield in front. The wheels of war chariots were sometimes fitted with razor-sharp scythes as additional weapons. The Greeks and Romans often used chariots in races and processions.
The first mention of chariots in The Bible is when Joseph, as prime minister of Egypt, rode the second chariot of Pharaoh (Genesis 41:43). He went out in his chariot to greet his father Jacob as the Israelites entered Egypt at Goshen (Exodus 46:29), and chariots were used in the funeral procession after Israel died (Exodus 50:7-9).
Perhaps the most famous incident in the Bible involving chariots was during the Exodus. When Pharaoh changed his mind about letting the Israelites go, he pursued them with "600 of the best chariots, along with all the other chariots of Egypt," (Exodus 14:7) which were lost in the Red Sea (Exodus 14:28).
There are many other references to chariots in the Bible, including -
- The Canaanites had iron chariots (Joshua 17:18, Judges 1:19). Jabin, the king of Canaan, had 900 chariots (Judges 4:3), and the Philistines had 30,000 in the time of King Saul.
- David captured many chariots from his enemies (2 Samuel 8:4, 10:18).
- Solomon had 1,400 chariots (1 Kings 10:26), which, perhaps surprisingly, were chiefly imported from Egypt (1 Kings 10:29). From then on they were used in Israel's military forces (1 Kings 22:34, 2 Kings 9:16,21; 13:7; 18:24; 23:30).
- Chariot cities were established to store war chariots during peace time (2 Chronicles 1:14). Many were also stored in Jerusalem
- Elijah was transported away on a mysterious "chariot of fire" (2 Kings 2:11). (see Aircraft In The Bible?) Later, Elisha allowed the servant to see the hills full of "horses and chariots of fire" (2 Kings 6:17).
- There is only one past reference to chariots in the New Testament, that of the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:28-29, 38).
- Chariots are used figuratively in the Prophecy of The Seven Seals - "They had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was the thundering of many horses and chariots rushing into battle" (Revelation 9:9). This future event of course describes modern "chariots" of war - tanks and attack helicopters.
Fact Finder: Did Zechariah have a vision of chariots that were used to symbolize spirits?