The adoption of the horse and chariot from the east, also highlights the religious tensions that may have fuelled pharaoh’s resistance to acknowledge Yahweh, and may help confirm one of the Bible’s dates for the Exodus event.
From its introduction in the early 17th century B.C.E. through to the start of the New Kingdom period (late 16th century B.C.E.), the horse and chariot had been mainly a high status accessory for the king and the elite, with its military function being of a secondary importance. Its construction required the use of different types of wood, bronze, raw hide and bone, most of which had to be imported from the Levant. This made it expensive to build and was therefore used to demonstrate the supremacy of the elite, through the physical skills of sport, hunting and official display. This was the horse and chariot’s primary occupation up until the 18th Dynasty, when the creation of the empire and Egypt’s military conquest of Canaan and beyond allowed easy access to the materials required. The horse and chariot became the catalyst for a new military strata in society, with the remodelling of the army and the creation of a chariot division. It also created a new class of soldier, with their own culture and code, and is comparable to the status of knighthood in the Middle Ages. If pharaoh’s use of the chariot as described in the Exodus account is to be believed, then it places the Exodus primarily in the New Kingdom period.