3 occurrences in 3 dictionaries

Reference: Arms


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 Ge 3:24. Lighter and shorter than our modern sword (2Sa 2:16; 20:8-10; 1Sa 17:51; 21:9-10). It was carried in a sheath, slung by a girdle, resting upon the thigh (Ps 45:3; 2Sa 20:8). In peace even a king wore no sword (1Ki 3:24). So that "gird on the sword" was a phrase for begin war (Ps 45:3). "Devour with the sword" (Isa 1:20), "smite with the edge (mouth) of the sword," are familiar personifications. Some swords were "two edged" (Ps 149:6), type of the Word (Heb 4:12; Re 1:16). Traces of the primitive use of flint for swords or knives appear in Ex 4:25; Jos 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 (1Sa 26:7; 22:6; 2Sa 1:6). It was this ponderous (compare 2Sa 2:23) weapon, not the lighter "javelin" (as KJV) which he hurled at David twice, and at Jonathan (1Sa 18:11; 19:10; 20:33). The JAVELIN (kidon) was lighter, appropriate to maneuvering, easy to hold outstretched (Jos 8:14-27); carried on the back between the shoulders. In 1Sa 17:6 translate, not "target," but "a JAVELIN of brass," distinguished from "the spear" (chanith), 1Sa 17:7; so 1Sa 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" (1Ki 18:28). The DART (shelach) (2Ch 32:5). The BATON, or SCEPTRE (shebet) used in 2Sa 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 (2Sa 1:22), Jehu (2Ki 9:24). The tribe Benjamin was noted for archery (1Ch 8:40; 12:2), where a bow for shooting stones forth is implied (2Ch 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" (Ps 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" (1Sa 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; Ps 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 (Eze 21:21-22). The SLING (Jg 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 (1Sa 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 (2Ch 26:15).

Of defensive armor there was the COAT OF MAIL (1Sa 17:5), Hebrew "breast-plate (shirion) of scales." In 1Ki 22:34, translate as margin "between the joints and the breast. plate." KJV trans. shirion "habergeons" (2Ch 26:14; Ne 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 (De 3:9; 4:48). The HELMET from a root meaning "high and round." GREAVES of brass, for the feet (1Sa 17:6). Two kinds of SHIELD: the tzinnah protecting the whole person (Ps 5:12), carried before the warrior when not in actual battle (1Sa 17:7,41); the Roman doorlike oblong shield, four feet long by two broad (thureon), from thura, a door), is meant Eph 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. 1Ki 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 2Ch 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 2Sa 8:7 "shields" of gold taken by David from Hadadezer king of Zobah, and dedicated in the temple, used in proclaiming, Joash king (2Ki 11:10), compare Song 4:4). In the New Testament compare Eph 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 (Lu 9:62), our only safety is ceaseless fighting (Mt 4:11; Jas 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 (Eph 4:21; compare Ex 12:11; Lu 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 (Isa 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 Ps 2:9; Pr 26:18; Jer 50:23; 51:20; Na 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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The offensive arms found in the O.T. are:

1. The SWORD, for which several Hebrew words are used: a. baraq, often translated 'lightning;' it is 'glittering sword' in Job 20:25. b. chereb, a sword, as laying waste. It is the word commonly used in the O.T. for sword (everywhere indeed except in the references given here under the other words): it was a straight tapering weapon, with two edges and a sharp point. Ps 149:6; Isa 14:19. It is used metaphorically for keen and piercing words, as in Ps 57:4; 64:3. c. retsach, an undefined slaying weapon, translated 'sword' only in Ps 42:10. d. shelach, a missile of death, as a dart. Job 33:18; 36:12; Joe 2:8. e. pethichoth, from 'to open,' is translated 'drawn sword' in Ps 55:21.

2. SPEARS. a. chanith, thus named as being flexible: it is the word mostly used for the spear. 1Sa 13:19; Ps 57:4. It is this weapon that will be beaten into pruning hooks. Isa 2:4; Mic 4:3. b. kidon, a smaller kind of lance, or javelin. Jos 8:18,26; Job 41:29; Jer 6:23. c. tselatsal, harpoon. Job 41:7. d. qayin, lance, 2Sa 21:16. e. romach, spear used by heavy-armed troops, the iron head of a spear. Jg 5:8, etc. The pruning hooks are to be beaten into spears in the time of God's judgements. Joe 3:10.

3. BOW, from which arrows are discharged, qesheth, generally made of wood, but sometimes of steel or brass. Job 20:24. It is constantly found in the O.T. from Genesis to Zechariah. It is used to express punishment from God, La 2:4; 3:12; and of men to show their power to injure. Ps 37:14-15. 'A deceitful bow' expresses a man who fails just when his aid is most needed, as when a bow breaks suddenly. Ps. 78: 57; Ho 7:16.

4. The SLING, by which stones are discharged, qela. It was by means of this that David smote Goliath. 1Sa 17:40,49-50. Of the Benjamites there were 700 men lefthanded; "every one could sling stones at an hair breadth, and not miss." Jg 20:16. (In Pr 26:8 occurs another word for sling margemah, but the passage is considered better translated "as he that putteth a precious stone in a heap of stones," as in the margin.)

5. 'ENGINES,' with which Uzziah shot arrows and great stones. 2Ch 26:15.

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ARMS. The Hebrews do not appear to have had any peculiar military habit. As the flowing dress which they ordinarily wore would have impeded their movements, they girt it closely around them when preparing for battle, and loosened it on their return, 2Sa 20:8; 1Ki 20:11. They used the same arms as the neighbouring nations, both defensive and offensive; and these were made either of iron or of brass, principally of the latter metal. Of the defensive arms of the Hebrews, the following were the most remarkable; namely,

1. The helmet, ????, for covering and defending the head. This was a part of the military provision made by Uzziah for his vast army, 2Ch 26:14; and long before the time of that king, the helmets of Saul and of the Philistine champion were of the same metal, 1Sa 17:38.

This military cap was also worn by the Persians, Ethiopians, and Libyans, Eze 38:5, and by the troops which Antiochus sent against Judas Maccabaeus, 1 Mac. 6:35.

2. The breastplate or corslet, ?????, was another piece of defensive armour. Goliath, and the soldiers of Antiochus, 1-Samuel/17/5/type/kj2000'>1Sa 17:5; 1 Mac. 6:35, were accoutred with this defence; which, in our authorized translation, is variously rendered habergeon, coat of mail, and brigandine, 1Sa 17:38; 2Ch 26:14; Isa 59:17; Jer 46:4. Between the joints of this harness, as it is termed in 1Ki 22:4, the profligate Ahab was mortally wounded by an arrow, shot at a venture. From these various renderings of the original word, it should seem that this piece of armour covered both the back and breast, but principally the latter. The corslets were made of various materials: sometimes they were made of flax or cotton, woven very thick, or of a kind of woollen felt: others again were made of iron or brazen scales, or laminae, laid one over another, like the scales of a fish; others were properly what we call coats of mail; and others were composed of two pieces of iron or brass, which protected the back and breast. All these kinds of corslets are mentioned in the Scriptures. Goliath's coat of mail, 1Sa 17:5, was literally a corslet of scales, that is, composed of numerous laminae of brass, crossing each other. It was called by Virgil, and other Latin writers, squama lorica. Similar corslets were worn by the Persians and other nations. The breastplate worn by the unhappy Saul, when he perished in battle, is supposed to have been of flax, or cotton, woven very close and thick, 2Sa 1:9, marginal rendering.

3. The shield defended the whole body during the battle. It was of various forms, and made of wood covered with tough hides, or of brass, and sometimes was overlaid with gold, 1Ki 10:16-17; 14:26-27. Two sorts are mentioned in the Scriptures; namely, the ??, great shield or buckler, and the ???, or smaller shield. It was much used by the Jews, Babylonians, Chaldeans, Assyrians, and Egyptians. David, who was a great warrior, often mentions a shield and buckler in his divine poems, to signify that defence and protection of Heaven which he expected and experienced, and in which he reposed all his trust, Ps 5:12; and when he says, "God will with favour compass the righteous as with a shield," he seem, to allude to the use of the great shield tsinnah, (which is the word he uses,) with which they covered and defended their whole bodies. King Solomon caused two different sorts of shields to be made; namely, the tsinnah, (which answers to clypeus among the Latins,) such a large shield as the infantry wore, and the maginnim, or scuta, which were used by the horsemen, and were of a much less size, 2Ch 9:15-16. The former of these are translated targets, and are double in weight to the other. The Philistines came into the field with this weapon: so we find their formidable champion was appointed, 1Sa 17:7. One bearing a shield went before him, whose proper duty it was to carry this and some other weapons, with which to furnish his master upon occasion.

The loss of the shield in fight was excessively resented by the Jewish warriors, as well as lamented by them; for it was a signal aggravation of the public mourning, that "the shield of the mighty was vilely cast away," 2Sa 1:21. David, a man of arms, who composed this beautiful elegy on the death of Saul, felt how disgraceful a thing it was for soldiers to quit their shields in the field.

These honourable sentiments were not confined to the Jews. We find them prevailing among most other ancient nations, who considered it infamous to cast away or lose their shield. With the Greeks it was a capital crime, and punished with death. The Lacedemonian women, it is well known, in order to excite the courage of their sons, used to deliver to them their fathers' shields, with this short address: "This shield thy father always preserved: do thou preserve it also, or perish." Alluding perhaps to these sentiments, St. Paul, when exhorting the Hebrew Christians to steadfastness in the faith of the Gospel, urges them not to cast away their confidence, which "hath great recompense of reward," Heb 10:35.

4. Another defensive provision in war was the military girdle, which was for a double purpose: first, in order to hold the sword, which hung, as it does this day, at the soldier's girdle or belt, 1Sa 17:39: secondly, it was necessary to gird the clothes and the armour together. To gird and to arm are synonymous words in Scripture; for those who are said to be able to put on armour are, according to the Hebrew and the Septuagint, girt with a girdle; and hence comes the expression of "girding to the battle," 1Ki 20:11; Isa 8:9; 2Sa 22:40; 1Sa 18:4. There is express mention of this military girdle, where it is recorded that Jonathan, to assure David of his entire love and friendship by some visible pledges, stripped himself not only of his usual garments, but of his military habiliments, his sword, bow, and girdle, and gave them to David.

5. Boots or greaves were part of the ancient defensive harness, because it was the custom to cast certain ???????, impediments, (so called, because they entangled the feet,) in the way before the enemy. The military boot or shoe was therefore necessary to guard the legs and feet from the iron stakes placed in the way to gall and wound them; and thus we are enabled to account for Goliath's greaves of brass which were upon his legs.

The offensive weapons were of two sorts; namely, such as were employed when they came to a close engagement, and those with which they annoyed the enemy at a distance. Of the former description were the sword and the battle-axe.

1. The sword is the most ancient weapon of offence mentioned in the Bible. With it Jacob's sons treacherously assassinated the Shechemites, Ge 34:2. It was worn on the thigh, Ps 45:4; Ex 32:27; and, it should seem, on the left thigh; for it is particularly mentioned that Ehud put a dagger or short sword under his garments on his right thigh, Jg 3:16. There appear to have been two kinds of swords in use, a larger one with one edge, which is called in Hebrew the mouth of the sword, Jos 6:21; and a shorter one with two edges, like that of Ehud. The modern Arabs, it is well known, wear a sabre on one side, and a cangiar or dagger in their girdles.

2. Of the battle-axe we have no description in the sacred volume: it seems to have been a most powerful weapon in the hands of cavalry, from the allusion made to it by Jeremiah: "Thou art my battle-axe and weapons of war; for with thee will I break in pieces the nations, and with thee will I destroy kingdoms: and with thee will I break in pieces the horse and his rider, and with thee will I break in pieces the chariot and his rider," Jer 51:20-21.

3. The spear and javelin (as the words ??? and ???? are variously rendered in Nu 25:7; 1Sa 13:19, and Jer 46:4) were of different kinds, according to their length or make. Some of them might be thrown or darted, 1Sa 18:11; others were a kind of long swords, Nu 25:8; and it appears from 2Sa 2:23, that some of them were pointed at both ends. When armies were encamped, the spear of the general or commander-in-chief was stuck into the ground at his head.

4. Slings are enumerated among the military stores collected by Uzziah, 2Ch 26:14. In the use of th

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