Wow, this is a treat, this little gem of a military history. Battles of the Bible: A Military History of Ancient Israel is the ultimate military historian’s “been there, done that” account of ancient battles. Herzog and Gichon, two WWII veterans of the British Army and later, the IDF, apply modern military principles and terminology to the accounts in the Bible, supplemented with other sources. We are introduced to war and peace in this crossroads of civilization from before Abraham until the battles of the Maccabees ending around 160 B.C. Along the way, they treat us to a seminar on battle tactics, grand strategy, political maneuvering, diplomatic endeavors, terrain analysis, logistics, offensive and defensive plans, multi-national expeditions, guerilla warfare, etc. Using information from the Bible and other contemporary sources, the authors explain how the forces operated and were influenced by the geography from Egypt to the Euphrates valley.
Gichon and Herzog overlay the bible’s accounts of events and participants, adjust or estimate time frames according to what is likely to have happened and then place the events on the actual terrain. What follows are clear explanations of moves and tactics by the Hebrews, their allies and their opponents. What is so interesting is they often give examples of modern day battles that occurred at the same places and how similar outcomes happened 2500 years ago. For example, Abraham apparently participates in the battle of the 4 Hyksos kings against the 5 kings of the Dead Sea. He sets up a successful night ambush near Damascus. Looking at the likely terrain, the authors then place ancient and modern battles in the same area:It is tempting to suggest the Barada gorge northwest of Damascus, an ancient highway and scene of many an ambush, as the setting for Abraham's battle. It was here that, in a similar outflanking movement along the same direction Abraham must have taken, the Australian Mounted Division ambushed and annihilated the retreating Turkish Fourth Army on the night of 30 Sept 1918.
We see the next 1700 years of conflict placed in military context. For instance, the campaign to take the promised land by Joshua is discussed as, 1) gathering intelligence by sending the spies to Jericho and establishing a foothold there, west of the Jordan; 2) the next phase of establishing a base of operations in the central mountains at Ai; and 3) expanding the base by spreading along the central highlands. We get maps, tactical diagrams, illustrations and photos of the terrain for these discussions. This process continues throughout the various periods and conflicts.
This is not a religious book, per se, although religion is discussed as a motivating factor in morale building and steadfastness over the years. I heartily recommend this to any Mideast military history buff and anyone interested in bringing to life, the people behind the Bible stories. 5 Stars! Permanent place on the military shelf.