What is “rereward?”


by Shawn Brasseaux

“Rereward”—found just four times in the King James Bible—has a definition we can probably guess if we just sound out the word and read the pertinent verses. The key is to say it as “rere-ward” instead of “re-reward:”

  • Numbers 10:25: “And the standard of the camp of the children of Dan set forward, which was the rereward of all the camps throughout their hosts: and over his host was Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai.”
  • Joshua 6:9: “And the armed men went before the priests that blew with the trumpets, and the rereward came after the ark, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets.”
  • Joshua 6:13: “And seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the LORD went on continually, and blew with the trumpets: and the armed men went before them; but the rereward came after the ark of the LORD, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets.”
  • 1 Samuel 29:2: “And the lords of the Philistines passed on by hundreds, and by thousands: but David and his men passed on in the rereward with Achish.”

It has nothing to do with a reward but everything to do with position within a formation. For a hint, draw your attention to the two Joshua passages above. Notice the “rereward” is that which came after the Ark of the Covenant. Do you see its meaning now? It is simply an alternate spelling of “rearward”—something toward the back. All four passages are in the context of military arrangements, with the rear guard taking the position of rereward or hindmost.

Also see:
» What does “in array” mean?
» What does “fetch a compass” mean?
» What does “discomfit” mean?