BAR 38:02, Mar/Apr 2012
ReViews: Hippology of Ancient Israel
The Horsemen of Israel: Horses and Chariotry in Monarchic Israel (Ninth–Eighth Centuries B.C.E.)
By Deborah O’Daniel Cantrell
(Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2011), 143 pp., $39.50 (hardcover)
This book is a page-turner. It is difficult to imagine that a book—let alone a revised doctoral dissertation (completed in 2008)—combining Biblical studies, history, archaeology and hippology could be characterized as a “page-turner,” and yet, that is the phrase that kept crossing my mind as I read this relatively short book, 143 pages, over a weekend.
At first Deborah Cantrell wanted to know why the Egyptians didn’t pursue the fleeing Israelites on horseback, “ride after them like cowboys chasing Indians,” rather than attempting to chase them down in chariots (Exodus 14:6–8). Then she wanted to know why Barak and Deborah fought iron chariots with only infantry (Judges 4:14–16). Then she became curious about why David rode a mule rather than a stallion (1 Kings 1:33, 38, 44) and why Solomon required chariot cities with thousands of horses (2 Chronicles 8:6). She came to her questions naturally; Cantrell has been a rider, trainer, breeder and importer of horses and has engaged in competitive barrel racing, jumping and dressage. Consequently, she approached her research with understanding and a large body of practical knowledge.