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Fausset's Bible Dictionary


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Neither remains of Hebrew Arms, nor representations of them in Scripture, or on vases, bronzes, mosaics, paintings, coins, or jewels, have been preserved to us. Of offensive armor there was the SWORD (chereb ), first mentioned Genesis 3:24. Lighter and shorter than our modern sword (2 Samuel 2:16; 2 Samuel 20:8-10; 1 Samuel 17:51; 1 Samuel 21:9-10). It was carried in a sheath, slung by a girdle, resting upon the thigh (Psalms 45:3; 2 Samuel 20:8). In peace even a king wore no sword (1 Kings 3:24). So that "gird on the sword" was a phrase for begin war (Psalms 45:3). "Devour with the sword" (Isaiah 1:20), "smite with the edge (mouth) of the sword," are familiar personifications. Some swords were "two edged" (Psalms 149:6), type of the Word (Hebrews 4:12; Revelation 1:16). Traces of the primitive use of flint for swords or knives appear in Exodus 4:25; Joshua 5:2.

The SPEAR (chanith ), Saul's regular companion (appropriate to his own stately height), at his head when sleeping, in his hand when gathering his soldiers, his leaning staff when dying (1 Samuel 26:7; 1 Samuel 22:6; 2 Samuel 1:6). It was this ponderous (compare 2 Samuel 2:23) weapon, not the lighter "javelin" (as KJV) which he hurled at David twice, and at Jonathan (1 Samuel 18:11; 1 Samuel 19:10; 1 Samuel 20:33). The JAVELIN (kidon ) was lighter, appropriate to maneuvering, easy to hold outstretched (Joshua 8:14-27); carried on the back between the shoulders. In 1 Samuel 17:6 translate, not "target," but "a JAVELIN of brass," distinguished from "the spear" (chanith ), 1 Samuel 17:7; so 1 Samuel 17:45, "with a javelin," not "a shield"; Job 39:23, "the glittering spear and the JAVELIN."

The LANCE (romach ), translated KJV "spear," "javelin," "lancet" (1 Kings 18:28). The DART (shelach ) (2 Chronicles 32:5). The BATON, or SCEPTRE (shebet ) used in 2 Samuel 18:14 of the "darts" with which Joab killed Absalom. The BOW (quesheth ). Captains of high rank did not disdain to seek expertness in it: as Jonathan (2 Samuel 1:22), Jehu (2 Kings 9:24). The tribe Benjamin was noted for archery (1 Chronicles 8:40; 1 Chronicles 12:2), where a bow for shooting stones forth is implied (2 Chronicles 14:8). The phrase for "bend the bow" is "tread" it, implying that it was bent with the foot. Some bows were made of brass or "steel" (Psalms 18:34). In the beginning of Saul's reign the Philistines had reduced Israel so as that "no smith was found throughout all the land of Israel; for the Philistines said, Lest the Hebrew make them swords or spears; so in the day of battle there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people but with Saul and with Jonathan" (1 Samuel 13:19-22). Curiously analogous to this is the stipulation mentioned in the league which the Etrurian Potsena conceded to the vanquished Romans (Pliny, 34:14), namely, "that they should not use iron save in agriculture."

The arrows (chitzim ) were carried in a quiver (theli ); Job 6:4 refers to poisoned arrows; Psalms 120:4 to the practice of attaching burning material to some arrow heads. Divination by arrows was practiced by the Chaldees. Nebuchadnezzar, undecided whether to attack Jerusalem or Ammon first, wrote their names on distinct arrows; the arrow first drawn from the quiver decided his course (Ezekiel 21:21-22). The SLING (Judges 20:16), the usual weapon of a shepherd, as David, to ward off beasts from the flock. His weapon in slaying Goliath; hence gracefully alluded to by Abigail in her prayer for him (1 Samuel 25:29): "the souls of thine enemies ... shall God sling out, as out of the middle of a sling." ENGINES for "shooting great stones" prepared by king Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:15).

Of defensive armor there was the COAT OF MAIL (1 Samuel 17:5), Hebrew "breast-plate (shirion ) of scales." In 1 Kings 22:34, translate as margin "between the joints and the breast. plate." KJV trans. shirion "habergeons" (2 Chronicles 26:14; Nehemiah 4:16), i.e. hauberks, a quilted shirt or doublet put over the head. From its breast-plate-like outline Hermon is called Sirion, contracted into Sion (Deuteronomy 3:9; Deuteronomy 4:48). The HELMET from a root meaning "high and round." GREAVES of brass, for the feet (1 Samuel 17:6). Two kinds of SHIELD: the tzinnah protecting the whole person (Psalms 5:12), carried before the warrior when not in actual battle (1 Samuel 17:7; 1 Samuel 17:41); the Roman doorlike oblong shield, four feet long by two broad (thureon ), from thura , a door), is meant Ephesians 6:16, "above all," i.e. over all, covering all the body, not the small round shield.

The mageen was smaller, a buckler for hand to band fight. 1 Kings 10:16-17; "six hundred shekels of gold went to one target" (tzinnah ), but" three pounds of gold went to one shield" (mageen ); the greater weight required for the tzinnah shows its larger size. The light mageen is that in 2 Chronicles 12:9-10. The shelet ("buckler," from shalat , to exercise authority), probably a small peculiarly shaped shield of gold, the badge of men high in authority. In 2 Samuel 8:7 "shields" of gold taken by David from Hadadezer king of Zobah, and dedicated in the temple, used in proclaiming, Joash king (2 Kings 11:10), compare Song of Solomon 4:4). In the New Testament compare Ephesians 6:14-17 for the Roman armor, except the spear. The breast-plate had a girdle beneath to brace up the person.

The Greek greaves protected the legs as well as the feet. The light armed troops (psiloi ), instead of shield and cuirass, wore a garment of leather, and fought with parts, bows, stones, and slings. The targeteers (peltastes) also were more lightly equipped than the heavy armed (hoplitoe). Three integuments are specified in Ephesians 6: the breast-plate, girdle, and shoes; two defenses, the helmet and shield; two offensive weapons, the sword and the spear (not the type, but its antitype, prayer, shot up as a javelin mightily; ejaculation is derived from jaculum, "a javelin".) There is no armor for the back, but only for the front we must never turn our back to the foe (Luke 9:62), our only safety is ceaseless fighting (Matthew 4:11; James 4:7). The girdle kept the armor in its place and supported the sword; so the "truth" in Jesus appropriated secures the believer, and braces him for the good fight (Ephesians 4:21; compare Exodus 12:11; Luke 12:35).

The Roman soldier wore military sandals (caligoe whence the emperor Caligula took his name); so Christians, "your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace"; the peace within beautifully contrasting with the raging war outside (Isaiah 26:3). To be at peace with God and ourselves we must ever war with Satan. In Assyrian remains we see a coat of scale armor reaching down to the knees or ankles. The MAUL or mace is alluded to in Psalms 2:9; Proverbs 26:18; Jeremiah 50:23; Jeremiah 51:20; Nahum 2:1; literally "that which scatters in pieces." So "Martel," a little HAMMER, was the surname of the king of the Franks.

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These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Arms'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. 1949.

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