Two weeks ago I was talking to a young twenty something who classified herself as a “skeptic.” Our conversation was about Jesus, faith, church, and the Bible. It was really fun and I think we both were enjoying our conversation. At one point in the discussion, she brought up why she was skeptical about the Bible being a book that God inspired. Her primary reason was because of all the war, killing, and genocide. This is familiar territory for people who talk to secularists or skeptics or agnostics and atheists.
Warfare in the Old Testament is the red headed step child of biblical studies… at least it has been for me! Part of this is to what I’ve time and time again acknowledged: the Old Testament is not my speciality… because of this, I’ve been taking every opportunity to read on the subject!
Enter Boyd Seevers‘ Warfare in the Old Testament: The Organization, Weapons, and Tactics of Ancient Near Eastern Armies. Seevers’ introduction explains his purpose. He writes,
“In order to help us better understand the world and message of the Old Testament, this book wil seek to describe the military practices of David, Joshua, and other Israelites, as well as those of the Egyptians, Philistines, Assyrians, and others known from the Old Testament. God, in his infinite wisdom, chose to communicate and work with people as they lived in the context of the contemporary culture. Often then, God’s Word is inextricably bound up in the regular cultural practices known to the original participants, authors, and readers. These cultural contexts, as we have seen, often included warfare.”
As I’ve read through Warfare in the Old Testament, I believe Seevers succeeds. This is an excellent reference work in relation to understanding the military practices of Israel and the surrounding nations, including Egypt, Philistia, Assyria, Babylon, and the Persians.
Whether this will make a splash amongst Old Testament scholars I cannot comment on. I simply do not have the academic background to weigh whether it is ground breaking. But I can recommend that pastors pick up a copy because I believe it will help with your study and overall understanding of the OT. If you are preaching a series that involves the OT narratives, which often included military campaigns, you’ll likely gain from having this on your book shelf.
So get it. You won’t be disappointed.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review*