The Bible is a source of wisdom throughout the ages, provided keeping your heathen penis out of your neighbor's livestock is a pressing matter in your day to day. It's also a loose history of some of the craziest battles ever fought. Back then war was about more than ridding the world of lunatic despots, it was a command from God himself. Only certain men received this calling, and these are their exploits.
The Conquest of Ai
c. 1400 BC
The first thing Joshua did after crossing the Jordan River into the promised land was to have all of his men circumcised. This was only polite considering the extreme fucking they would spend the next 1000 years giving the Middle East. The second thing he did after crossing the river was to have his men parade their sleek new dicks around the walled city of Jericho for six days with the Ark of the Covenant. On the seventh day, they circled the city seven times and blasted the walls down with music from their ram horn trumpets. The walls fell, and Joshua's forces stood victorious. The research is inconclusive, but historians suggest they did this by playing Van Halen's "Panama" until the walls committed suicide. His next target was the Canaanite city of Bethel, but before he could seize control of it, he would need to first deal with a garrison of Bethel's men in the nearby ruins of Ai.
Joshua's scouts revealed that Ai was lightly defended with only a few hundred men, so Joshua sent a force approximately 3,000 strong to capture it. The sound of a few thousand Jews noisily complaining their way up a mountain can be heard from miles around, and the men of Ai rained arrows and spears upon the poorly armed force from the safety of the higher ground. It only took 36 deaths for the retreating Israelites to realize this was a poorly conceived invasion, and in ancient Israel, poorly conceived invasions could only mean one thing - God turned his back on them because someone sinned.
The tension in Joshua's camp was as thick as a river full of foreskins as they sought the potential sinner amongst them. One could argue that making up a ridiculous story about destroying a city when it was abandoned at the time of the Hebrew arrival would be considered breaking 9th Commandment, but technically there were no neighbors there to bear false witness against. Even as nomadic sheep herders the Jews had already mastered the art of legal loopholes. There had to be someone else, and they soon found that someone else in Achan ben Carmi, a man responsible for pilfering gold, silver, and a fancy robe from Jericho's ruins. Achan, his wife, children, and even his cattle were all stoned to death in history's first recorded instance of political scapegoating, and in the case of the cows, political hamburgering.
A pissed off Joshua then turned his attention and 8,000 more of his soldiers back to Ai, proclaiming, "Fuck that." He sent an ambush party to lie in wait on the western side of Ai while his main force and a smaller routing party camped across a ravine to prevent an attack during the night. At daybreak, Joshua's main force mounted a fake frontal assault on Ai. The Canaanites, emboldened by their victory, decided the only thing better than hurling ranged weapons downhill was hurling themselves downhill. As they charged Joshua's force, he retreated and sent a signal for his ambush party to attack the unprotected ruins of Ai. They took it with ease, and Joshua's main force halted their retreat and turned around. With Ai burning, the three strands of Joshua's army converged to surround and finish off the Canaanite defenders. I can't accurately describe what happened next, but I imagine it looked a lot like this, and by the end of the day 12,000 Canaanites had met their end.
Battle of Mount Tabor
By 12th century BC, ancient Israel consisted mostly of a confederation of tribes not too unlike the original 13 United States colonies. With Joshua dead and their territory in turmoil, they rejected central authority and relied largely on a group of people known as the Judges to lead them rather than rule them. Deborah, a poet, orator, and prophet was one of these. Ordinarily, women who claimed to foresee the future in the Bible were expected to turn into a shrieking pile of snakes when rebuked. Not Deborah. After pleading with the tribes of Israel to donate troops to help Hebrew settlements on the Plain of Esdraelon, an unconquered region that essentially divided Hebrew land in two, she finally found an unwilling leader for her forces in General Barak.
The area was ruled by Jabin of Hazor, a king whose ancestor had been slain by Joshua. His army was led by Sisera, the Bronze Age equivalent of a Chuck Norris joke on a chariot. Sisera was an internet meme during a time when internet memes had to be transcribed thousands of times on scrolls and individually handed out, so when people wrote about what a bad ass he was, it took dedication. For example, legend says that Sisera once went swimming in a river and emerged with enough fish in his mighty beard to feed his entire army. Sisera's shouts could level city walls and kill wildlife. If Sisera's beard and Chuck Norris's beard ever got into a fight, Texans would be able to build a border fence out of nothing but hair follicles and defeat.
It's amazing what women managed to accomplish before Oprah was invented. Deborah and Barak marched to Mount Tabor with a force of 10,000 scantily armed men to do battle against a chariot line 1,000 strong backed by several thousand soldiers. On one side you had a man whose voice could kill bears, and on the other a Jewish sorceress. It was the kind of insanity you would expect to come from a drunkenly written Tolkien novel. The Hebrew side didn't have much of a plan other than to wait for Yahweh to do some crazy God shit to save the day, and the other side had a larger number of men protected by a mobile wall of horse drawn death wagons. To put it in terms of Civilization, it was like sending one settler unit out to do battle against a line of tanks. Fortunately for the Hebrew side, Yahweh uses cheat codes.
Shortly before the battle began, a sudden thunderstorm soaked the ground giving it the consistency of oatmeal. Chariots bogged down in mud are about as useful as Aquaman in a space war, and it didn't take long for the Israelites to seize the opportunity to strike. Without their ace in the hole, Sisera's men soon began to break. Though Sisera was knocked from his chariot, he managed to flee the battle only to later be murdered in the home in which he found refuge, thus fulfilling Deborah's prophecy. It was the first recorded instance of a woman saying, "I told you so," and they haven't stopped holding it over men's heads since.
Ambush at the Spring of Harod
On the surface, Gideon and Midian may sound like different colors on the same Final Fantasy monster, but they're as different as GrassImp and SandImp. Midianites were nomadic desert raiders from the east who routinely raided outreaching Israeli tribes. The domestication of the battle camel, the ancient equivalent of a humvee, helped turn them from an isolated Middle Eastern force into every stereotypical evil Aladdin henchman ever.
Gideon was a simple man, a herder with a small plot of land, who was chosen and commanded by Yahweh to unite the tribes of Israel and slay those terrorizing Israel. Gideon wasn't one to just blindly follow any random voice in his head, though, and he demanded proof. He placed a wool blanket on the ground overnight and asked Yahweh to make it wet and leave the ground dry. The next morning, he wrung a bowl of water from the wool. But any god or sweaty fat person could do that, so he asked Yahweh to repeat the miracle but this time make the ground wet and leave the blanket dry. It succeeded, and this rigorous method of scientifically testing the supernatural would later form the basis of the hit television show Ghost Hunters. Gideon knew he had some warring to do.
The most important part of waging a holy war is to make sure everyone is on the same page concerning which god is almightiest. There is an ancient proverb that says, "Let he whosoever followeth the Man of Macho not be decorated in the throes of Hulkamania." Gideon destroyed the altars to the pagan gods Ba'al and Asherah in his hometown, telling his people it was either Yahweh or the highweh. It worked. Too well. He roused a gathering 30,000 strong from his and neighboring tribes. Gideon told his force that those who had fear or did not fully believe in the power of Yahweh could go back home, and Gideon soon departed with an army 20,000 pussies lighter. Another factor in sending them home was the belief that 30,000 men would be TOO victorious, and that would make Yahweh seem slightly less awesome. But Yahweh wasn't done yet. Yahweh wanted the odds to go from regular impossible to Bruce Willis impossible, so when Gideon and his army reached the Spring of Harod, Yahweh instructed Gideon to further whittle down his forces by observing how the men drank from it. Those who lapped from the waters like dogs were sent home, while those who brought the water to their lips with cupped hands in order to watch their surroundings while drinking were kept. It wasn't perfect, but it was still a better indication of military prowess than the ASVAB. Only 300 men remained. Nobody knows how many men the Midianites had, but to Gideon's men it was somewhere along the numbers of "you want us to do what now?"
But Gideon didn't get to be leader by winning some stupid election. He had a plan, God's plan, and the 300 shepherds least likely to impale themselves on their own swords. Each man was given a trumpet and a torch in a clay jar, and they snuck up to and surrounded the Midianite camp under the cover of darkness. Upon Gideon's signal, they all lit their torches and blasted their trumpets. The only thing louder than 300 men blasting trumpets is the sound of tens of thousands of sleeping men simultaneously shitting their beds. There were so many stained sheets after this battle that Midian's flag was changed to two white stripes with a long brown one running down the middle. The confused Midianites saw the torches of an army surrounding them, and in a sleepy and confused panic they began to flee in every direction, some of them grabbing weapons and using them on anyone dumb and brown enough to be near them. Unfortunately, most of these people were part of their own army. Many of them fled directly into the hands of waiting Israeli tribes. It was a psychological attack that utilized fear to neutralize a much larger opponent, and it worked extremely well.
And that's why you find Bibles in hotel rooms.
Conquest of Jerusalem
Saul was Israel's first true king and spent his entire reign at war with the more technologically advanced Philistines. It was under his rule that David, a musician who played music to soothe Saul's bouts with depression, came into prominence during his battle against Goliath. The story of David and Goliath is a prehistoric Columbine parable, only the pussy who went home and got a gun is considered a hero in this story. Saul eventually became jealous of David's fame and sought to have him executed. The Philistines were in control of the southern region of Israel, Judah, and David was given a vassal kingdom within it in hopes that he would rouse anti-Saul sentiments. David sent false reports to the Philistines of his conquests in the region, all the while gaining popularity among his people and consolidating his power. The Philistines must not have given two Jereboams and a Jesuit about checking up on things, because by the time they finally said, "heeey waitaminit," David had grown too strong. After Saul eventually passed, the tribes came to accept David as their leader. The Philistines reminded him that he was still one of their vassals, and after David told them to kiss his vassal, war broke out. David handily defeated the Philistines in a series of battles, and faced the problem of where to place his capital. His makeshift capital at Hebron was too far south to appease the remote northern tribes, so he set his sights on the central city of Jebus.
When David's army approached Jebus, the defenders on the walls taunted him like it was a Monty Python skit. Some accounts suggest that some of David's men snuck in through the water system to form a distraction, but sneaking through a sewer sounds too made up even for the Bible. Under Philistine rule, the Israelites were not allowed to develop technology more sophisticated than the garden hoe, and they were treated like glue eating children who required adult supervision to have them sharpened. Needless to say, they didn't possess siege technology, so they turned to the same tactic that had won them so many battles and lovemaking competitions in the past - FUCKING CHARGE. By the time the Jebusites realized David was serious, they were picking pointy sticks and arrows out of their teeth and eyes. Once David's men reached the walls, the battle was over. With the high ground secure, they were easily able to gain control of the rest of the city. They changed the name to Jerusalem, and people have been blowing each other and themselves up over it ever since.