What is…

also known as: hamstring

Hebrew: תְּעַקֵּ֔ר —meaning: to hamstring; an animal that has been thus cut is called hamstrung

Israel’s kings were prohibited from trying to build up large stables of chariot horses. Rather than keeping, selling, or killing enemy horses, twice Scripture mentions that Israel’s leaders crippled them instead.

This involved severing the Achilles tendon of the hind legs of captured horses, making them useless to the Israelites or their enemies as war horses (1 Chronicles 18:4).

God specifically told Joshua to do this once.

“Then the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Do not be afraid because of them, for tomorrow at this time I will deliver all of them slain before Israel; you shall hamstring their horses and burn their chariots with fire.’” —Joshua 11:6 NASB

In defeating King Hadadezer of Zobah,

David captured from him 1,700 horsemen and 20,000 foot soldiers; and David hamstrung the chariot horses, but reserved enough of them for 100 chariots.” —2 Samuel 8:4; 1 Chronicles 18:4 NASB

The patriarch Israel (Jacob) considered hamstringing generally cruel and said this to his sons, because of their various angry deeds.

Simeon and Levi are brothers;
Instruments of cruelty are in their dwelling place.
Let not my soul enter their council;
Let not my honor be united to their assembly;
For in their anger they slew a man,
And in their self-will they hamstrung an ox.
Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce;
And their wrath, for it is cruel!
I will divide them in Jacob
And scatter them in Israel. —Gen. 49:5-7 NKJV

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Article Version: March 23, 2023