Bible Myth #12: Horses were hamstrung

Bible Myth #12: Horses were hamstrung

The idea that horses were hamstrung by Joshua’s and David’s men is a myth.

Although some translations of the Hebrew Scriptures say they were hamstrung, the accurate translation is that they were gelded.

Joshua 11:6. And the LORD* said to Joshua, “Do not be in awe because of them! For tomorrow about this time I AM will deliver them up, all slain before Israel: you will make geldings of their horses and burn their chariots with fire. God specifically told Joshua to geld the horses.”

David also gelded horses, recorded in 2 Samuel 8:4 and 1 Chronicles 18:3.

And David smote Hadarezer king from Zobah to Hamath, as he went to establish his dominion by the river Euphrates. 4. And David took from him a thousand chariots and seven thousand horsemen and twenty thousand foot soldiers. David also castrated all the chariot horses, but reserved of them a hundred for chariots.

The literal translation is castrated, making geldings of the war horses.

To hamstring a horse would be terribly cruel and leave it crippled, so it could not be used at all to pull a wagon or to ride. Making the horse a gelding made it unsuitable for war as a chariot horse, but very useful for riding or pulling a wagon.

The word “hamstring” is from the Latin text, kept in various translations by tradition, but it not accurate.

*Excerpted from Myths of the Bible