(מֶרכָב, merkaib, a "chariot" [1Ki 4:26; Heb 5:6]; also a seat in a chariot or other vehicle, "saddle" [Le 15:9]; "covering" of a palanquin [Song 3:10]). SEE CHARIOT.
The word which our translators elsewhere (Ge 22:3; Nu 22:21; Jg 19:10; 2Sa 16:1; 2Sa 17:23; 1 Kings 2, 40; 13:13, 23, 27; 2Ki 4:24) render by "to saddle" literally signifies "to bind about" (as Ex 29:9; Joh 2:6, and often) — namely, with the bags or panniers used for riding or carrying burdens. It is certain that saddles were unknown for many ages after the custom of riding had been introduced. Those who did not ride bareback were contented with placing a piece of leather or cloth between them and their steed. As luxury advanced, a soft cushion was introduced, to which were added various ornamental trappings, and these were soon carried to a ridiculous excess of ostentation. Saddles, properly so called, were in all probability invented by the Persians, perhaps for the sake of giving a steady seat to their mounted archers, a part of their military force to which they always paid the greatest attention. Pack saddles must have been s much earlier invention, for something was obviously necessary to prevent the backs of animals bearing heavy burdens from being chafed by the loads (see Kitto, Pict. Bible, at Jg 19:10). SEE ASS; SEE CAMEL; SEE HORSE. The ordinary pack saddles of the camels were high, and made of wood; carpets, cloths, etc., were heaped upon it, to form a comfortable seat for ladies who do not use the cradle, or hamper, while travelling. The cloths, etc., were removed at the end of the day's journey, and, being laid on the ground, served as a sort of mattress in the tent, on which a person might sit or lie down, while he reclined against the pack saddle itself (Ge 31:34).