Walking was the most common way for people living in Bible times to get from one place to another on a daily basis. Given the fatigue that discourages sustained running, those who ran were either special people with unique vocations or ordinary people who were responding to unique situations. Those expected to run included athletes, couriers, and royal guards. The Greeks introduced the world to athletic contests that were the precursor to our Olympic games. The ancient games included running events of various distances in which athletes could

compete against one another. Couriers were also regular runners. Though there was no access to any form of electronic communication in Bible times, people still had important messages to deliver. One option was to use couriers like the unnamed Cushite who carried the news of Absalom’s death to David (2 Sam 18:21). The physical skills of couriers compare favorably to modern marathoners. Postal couriers from the Roman period were capable of maintaining a pace that put one hundred statute miles behind them by the time their day was done.

Members of the royal guard were also required to run while the leader they protected rode in a chariot (1 Sam 8:11). Pretenders to the throne like Absalom and Adonijah duplicated this royal imagery as they tried to slip the throne from imagery as the tried to slip the throne from the hands of its rightful owner (2 Sam 15:1; 1 Kings 1:5).

For individuals like these, running was normal; for everyone else, running was the exception. Consequently, when the biblical authors tell us someone was running, we do citement was all about. There are five special situations in which we most often find people running in the Bible.


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