A Strange Occurrence at Michmash 1918
We owe to Major Vivian Gilbert, a British army officer, this description of a truly remarkable occurrence. Writing in his reminiscences [Chichikov: The Romance of the Last Crusade] he says : ‘In the First World War a brigade major in Allenby’s army in Palestine was on one occasion searching his Bible with the light of a candle, looking for a certain name. His brigade had received orders to take a village that stood on a rocky prominence on the other side of a deep valley. It was called Michmash and the name seemed somehow familiar. Eventually he found it in 1 Sam. 13 and read there: ‘And Saul, and Jonathan his son, and the people that were present with them, abode in Gibeah of Benjamin but the Philistines encamped in Michmash.’ It then went on to tell how Jonathan and his armour-bearer crossed over during the night ‘to the Philistine’s garrison’ on the other side, and how they passed two sharp rocks: ‘there was a sharp rock on the one side and a sharp rock on the other side: and the name of the one was Bozez and the name of other Seneh.’ (1 Sam 14). They clambered up the cliff and overpowered the garrison, ‘within as it were an half acre of land, which a yoke of oxen might plow’. The main body of the enemy awakened by the melee thought they were surrounded by Saul’s troops and ‘melted away and they went on beating down one another.’
Thereupon Saul attacked with his whole force and beat the enemy. ‘So the Lord saved Israel that day.’
The brigade major reflected that there must still be this narrow passage through the rocks, between the two spurs, and at the end of it the ‘half acre of land.’ He woke the commander and they read the passage through together once more. Patrols were sent out. They found the pass, which was thinly held by the Turks, and which led past two jagged rocks–obviously Bozez and Seneh. Up on top, beside Michmash, they could
see by the light of the moon a small flat field. The brigadier altered his plan of attack.
Instead of deploying the whole brigade he sent one company through the pass under cover of darkness. On Feb 18th 1918, The few Turks whom they met were overpowered without a sound, the cliffs were scaled, and shortly before daybreak the company had taken up a position on the ‘half acre of land.’
The Turks woke up and took to their heels in disorder since they thought they were being surrounded by Allenby’s army. They were all killed or taken prisoner.
‘And so,’ concludes Major Gilbert, ‘after thousands of years British troops successfully copied the tactics of Saul and Jonathan.’ “2
The trick used by both Jonathan and Allenby allowed for major turing points in the repelling of the Philistines as well as the movement towards Jericho some 2000 thousand years later. On the morning of February 21, 1918, combined Allied forces of British troops and the Australian mounted cavalry capture the city of Jericho in Palestine after a three-day battle with Turkish troops.
Commanded by British General Edmund Allenby, the Allied troops began the offensive on Tuesday, February 19, on the outskirts of Jerusalem. Despite battling adverse weather conditions and a determined enemy in the Turks, the Allies were able to move nearly 20 miles toward Jericho in just three days.