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Weapons and Warfare
By James Moyer, Ph.D., chairman of the Department of Religious Studies,
Southwest Missouri State University.
The book of Judges describes the period when the Israelites were settling into
the Promised Land following the Exodus from Egypt. Because the conquest
was not complete, warfare was frequent, and resulted in the hero stories
preserved in Judges. These heroes were known as "judges", meaning, not
people who decided court cases, but military leaders who delivered Israel from
her enemies. What weapons did these heroes use, and what was their strategy
in defeating their enemies?
The Bible does not usually give a detailed description of weapons or of military
strategy. Yet we have a good knowledge of weapons from archaeological
discoveries and drawings, paintings and reliefs.
Offensive weapons
Offensive weapons in use at this time can be divided into three categories
according to their range. Short-range weapons were used in hand-to-hand
combat and included the sword or dagger and the spear. Medium-range
weapons were designed to be thrown at enemies a short distance away.
Occasionally spears were light enough to be thrown, but the shorter and lighter
javelin was better suited for throwing. Long-range weapons could be thrown or
fired at an enemy further away. Examples of long-range weapons include the
sling, used to hurl stones, and the bow, for propelling arrows.
Armour was used to protect the foot soldier’s body as far as possible. Armour
included the helmet for the head, scale armour, coats of mail, the breastplate
for the body and greaves to cover the shins. The foot soldier also carried a
shield to cover any unprotected parts of his body. An armour-bearer or shield-
bearer could also be employed to carry the soldier’s weapons and his shield.
With this information, we can discuss the weapons and warfare described in the
book of Judges, where we read "...not a shield or spear was seen among forty
thousand in Israel" (Judges 5:8). Clearly weapons were in short supply, at least
for the Israelites, an interpretation which is supported by the [above] lists of
weapons mentioned in Judges.
These two lists of weapons reveal a striking contrast between Israel and her
enemies. The Israelites used mostly "primitive" weapons, such as farm
implements and household articles, and had few metal weapons. By contrast,
their enemies possessed metal weapons, particularly iron weapons. Iron was
much harder and more durable than bronze or copper, and its manufacture took
greater technological skill than the Israelites possessed. The Iron Age
commenced in Israel during the days of the judges...the Philistines already had
something of a monopoly of iron metallurgy.... As long as the Philistines
maintained this monopoly, Israel could not hope to dislodge them from the plain
(Judges 1:19). On those occasions when the Israelites did prevail against their
enemies, it was credited to divine help; some of their success must also have
been the result of better strategy or tactics.
Iron chariots
Let us look first at the weapons of Israel’s enemies. We learn that the men of
the tribe of Judah could not drive out the inhabitants of the plain because they
had iron chariots (Judges 1:19). Pulled by two horses, the chariot was in effect
a moving platform for two or three soldiers. It was most valuable in making
rapid flanking movements where the land was fairly flat and open. The coastal
area of Palestine was relatively level, while the hill-country inland featured steep
slopes and deep valleys. In ancient times the hills were heavily forested and
Israelite guerilla tactics proved successful in this territory. However, in the
coastal plain the Canaanite and Philistine iron chariots proved to be the tanks of
their period, racing across the flat country. But chariots were ineffective on
wooded hills.
Since the Iron Age had just begun in Canaan, iron chariots would have been the
latest and best military weapon. Some scholars believe the iron would have
been used to make part of the wheels and fittings of the chariot, while others
think there was an iron plate to reinforce the wooden body of the chariot. In
either case, the iron would have been superior to bronze, and would have made
the chariot more durable.
Since Israel did not obtain chariots until the time of the monarchy, they simply
could not dislodge the people of the coastal plain. But in one instance there was
a strikingly different result. Jabin and Sisera, from the stronghold of Hazor, had
a massive force of 900 iron chariots (Judges 4, 5). But Deborah and Barak, the
Israelite leaders, were successful against this superior force because God
routed the enemy. There is also the implication that there was a late spring
storm which turned the river Kishon into a raging torrent and rendered the iron
chariots useless in the battle.
Apart from the chariots, the only other enemy weapon mentioned in Judges is
the sword. The Midianites possessed them (Judges 7:22), but in their panic to
flee from Gideon, killed one another....
The assassination of Eglon
Weapons from ancient Egypt. Photo courtesy of Dallas Brown, Southern Illinois
University at Edwardsville
The Israelites also used some traditional weapons. The story of Ehud, who
plotted a daring one-man assassination attack on King Eglon of Moab, is told in
Judges 3:12-30. The standard sword of this period was curved, with one sharp
edge used for slicing and slashing. It is sometimes called a sickle sword, and is
the basis of the expression "smite the enemy with the edge of the sword" [see,
for example, Judges 1:8, 25; 4:15; 18:27, KJV]. This type of weapon would not
have served Ehud’s need, since it could not easily have been concealed from
the palace guards, nor could it be used to thrust or stab to death. So the text
explains: "Ehud had made a double-edged sword about a foot and a half long,
which he strapped to his right thigh under his clothing" [Judges 3:16]. Such
metal weapons were still very rare in Israel.
Because Ehud was left-handed, he hid his sword on the right side; right-handed
soldiers would wear their swords on their left side. This reversal may explain
Ehud’s success in getting past the king’s guards. By implying that he was the
bearer of a confidential message, Ehud got rid of all of Eglon’s attendants.
When Ehud told the king that his message was from God, Eglon stood up and
put himself in an ideal position for Ehud to stab him with the concealed sword.
As the sword had been designed for stabbing, it probably had a relatively short
hilt, which would have penetrated Eglon’s fat body. Having accomplished his
piece of treachery, Ehud fled, calling his waiting men into battle. With their king
dead, the Moabites would have retreated hastily across the river Jordan to their
homeland, or sought for reinforcements from Moabite territory. By taking
control of the fords across the river, Ehud’s men were able to win the ensuing
battle decisively.
In another incident the judge Gideon told his son, Jether, to kill Zebah and
Zalmunna with a sword (Judges 8:20). However, Jether was afraid because of
his youth, and Gideon did it himself. This is one of the rare instances recorded
in the book of Judges of an Israelite using a sword.
After Gideon’s son Abimelech had been severely wounded, he asked his
armour-bearer to kill him (Judges 9:54). The armour-bearer took the sword and
killed Abimelech, as commanded. This was apparently one of the accepted
functions of the armour-bearer in these times; later King Saul made a similar
request of his own armour-bearer (1 Samuel 31:4).
There is no record in Judges of other individual Israelites using the sword, and
the only other conventional weapon mentioned is the sling. We are told that 700
left-handed slingers from the tribe of Benjamin could sling a stone at a hair and
not miss (Judges 20:16).
Alternative weapons
On the other hand, many other objects served as weapons when nothing better
was available. We are told that Shamgar struck down 600 Philistines with an ox
goad, in a tantalizingly brief reference (Judges 3:31). Perhaps he was ploughing
with his oxen when the Philistines appeared over the hill. The ox goad was a
farm implement, about two or three metres (eight or ten feet) in length, with one
end pointed, and sometimes metal-tipped, to prod the ox to plough. The other
end was fashioned with a scraper to dislodge the clods that became entangled
in the plough. Shamgar’s heroic feat fits the pattern in the book of Judges of
gaining victory with inferior weapons.
In Judges 4 and 5 we learn how Sisera fled the battlefield to avoid being killed
or captured. He came to the tent of Jael, who seemed to offer him safety.
However, while he was sleeping off his fatigue, she took a hammer and tent-
peg and pounded the peg through his temple (Judges 4:21, 5:26). The hammer
she used was probably made of stone, and the tent-peg a wooden object.
Gideon’s surprise attack
Gideon was faced with the task of fighting the Midianites (Judges 7). They had
large encampments, with women, children, cattle, camels and tents, which
meant their greatest weakness was that they could easily be panicked by a
surprise attack. This was exactly the strategy that Gideon chose to employ,
which explains why he used such a small force of only 300 men. The smaller the
force, the less chance there was of detection in a surprise attack. Gideon
divided his troops into three companies and positioned one company on each of
three sides of the Midianite camp. He probably left open the east side, where
the terrain was most problematic, so that any survivors would have had a
difficult time if they fled.
Gideon waited until the Midianites were all sleeping soundly, and until the new
sentries, unaccustomed to the darkness and to night conditions, came on duty.
Since co-ordination is absolutely essential in a surprise attack, he himself was
to signal the attack, to ensure that nobody made a false start. At his signal,
everyone smashed his jar, blew his trumpet and shouted. The noise panicked
the Midianites; when they looked out of their tents they saw the flickering
torches, which could easily have been used to set the tents alight, and so
increase the panic. Fearing that they were surrounded by a huge enemy force,
the Midianites rushed to escape, falling on each other with their swords in the
confusion. The surprise attack had succeeded to perfection, and Gideon won
the battle with ease.
Another unusual weapon was used by a woman against Abimelech (Judges 9:
50-54). When he attacked Thebez, all the people fled to the city’s tower. Safe
in the tower, the woman waited till Abimelech was close to the entrance, then
dropped a millstone on his head, mortally wounding him. A millstone was
normally about five to eight centimetres (two or three inches) thick and 50
centimetres (eighteen inches) in diameter.
Samson’s weapons
Samson did not use orthodox weapons either. When he was met by a roaring
lion, he had no weapons at all; using his bare hands and brute strength, he tore
the lion apart as if it had been a tender young goat (Judges 14:6). On another
occasion, he was weaponless because he had just been handed over to the
Philistines. He picked up the fresh jawbone of a donkey (this must have been
heavier and moister than an old, dried-out jawbone) and killed 1000 Philistines
with it, wielding it like a club (Judges 15:15).
On another occasion, Samson went to Gaza, in Philistine territory, to visit a
prostitute. Since it was night, the Philistines closed the city gate on him. (The
city would have had a thick wall surrounding it, and only one exit.) When the
hero went to leave, he found the gate barred shut. Undeterred, he pulled up the
gate-posts and the gate itself, and walked free from the city (Judges 16:1-3).
Since a city would have taken great pride in its fortifications, his action would
have been a great humiliation to the citizens, and left the place temporarily
defenceless. Finally, at the end of his life, Samson used his hands and arms to
topple the columns of the Philistine temple and thus kill himself and 3000
Philistines with him.
Final battle
The last battle recorded in the book of Judges, the attack on Gibeah, gives an
interesting account of battle tactics (Judges 20:18-48). As the defenders, the
people of Gibeah and the Benjaminites had an advantage since they were
fighting to defend their home territory. Israel’s two head-on assaults were
successfully repulsed, as the town of Gibeah was well fortified and encircled by
a thick, high wall.
On their third attempt, the Israelites set up an ambush out of sight of the city,
and then pulled back their assault force as if in flight. The unsuspecting
Benjaminites sallied out from the safety of the city to pursue the "fleeing" army,
leaving Gibeah defenceless. At this point the ambush party attacked the city,
and set it on fire. The clouds of smoke from the burning city acted as a signal to
the assault force to turn and counter-attack the Benjaminites, now trapped
between the Israelites and their burning city. The clouds of smoke from the
destroyed city further demoralized them.
This civil war disaster and its aftermath led the writer of Judges to conclude the
book with a strong plea for kingship: "In those days Israel had no king;
everyone did as he saw fit" (Judges 21:25).
James Moyer, Discovering the Bible: Archaeologists Look at Scripture, ed. Tim
Dowley, Marshall Morgan & Scott Publications Ltd., Basingstoke, England,
1986, pp. 42-50. Reprinted with permission from Tim Dowley at Three's
Company, London, England. email:abg23@dial.pipex.com
top three illustrations by Ken Tunell; copyright 2003 Worldwide Church of God

****************************************************************************************
***

$18.50
This human hair, great quality beard is on lace. Which makes
it blend into the skin well. Yet it's still economical. Use
spirit gum to apply.
Remove carefully with any remover such as Bond Off!, Super Solv
or Agent X. Clean the lace of all adhesive when removed and you'll
might be able to use it again.
Comes in Brown only.


Caveman / Jesus / Biblical Wig
Quantity in Basket: none


$17.00
Economical, yet great quality. Trim it if you need to.
Brown only
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Whip and Spike Wounds
Quantity in Basket: none

$14.00
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Flexible plastic crown of thorns
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--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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Video Using My Khopesh with Pictures & Clips from History (just released):http:
//www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYkEuBOrTlU

Pictures of the finished knife. Thanks.
The Khopesh Sword For Sale – Video on Khopesh History & Demo Too

Saw something on the history channel about this sword/knife and liked it, so I
made one.

History of the Khopesh Sword:
Khopesh is the Egyptian name of the Canaanite “sickle-sword”. It’s origins can
be traced back to third millennium Sumer. It was initially used against the
Egyptians in war, but as the kingdom of Egypt improved trade relations with
other kingdoms, eventually it adopted the Khopesh. While originally these
ancient swords were used against the Egyptians, they were so impressed by
them that they adopted them as their own and the Khopesh eventually became
the very symbol of Egyptian authority, with two such swords even found in the
tomb of the legendary Pharaoh/Mummy Tutankhamun (c 1350 BC).

In case you’re interested, here’s part of the episode I watched on the History
Channel about the Khopesh. Pretty interesting, if you like that kind of stuff.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73_2VupdnSM
Go about 8 minutes into it.

Shop Details:
5160 Steel Blade was cut out and Normalized @ 1500 degrees until non
magnetic, three times, to remove stresses and align crystals. Heat Hardened to
@ 1500 degrees, until blade became nonmagnetic, then quenched in 125
degree quality oil. Tempered the blade to a straw hardness @ 425 degrees for
1 hour, letting it air cool and repeating once more. Blade was file tested and is
shown to be very hard.
$18.00
Real Crown of
thorns.
Sickle Sword_mace__isrial

The Bronze Canaanite Sickle Sword, or Khopesh, which traces its origins to Sumeria around the third
millennium BC.

While originally these ancient swords were used against the Egyptians, they were so impressed by
them that they adopted them as their own and the Khopesh eventually became the very symbol of
Egyptian authority, with two such swords even found in the tomb of the legendary Pharaoh/Mummy
Tutankhamun (c 1350

khopesh Middle Bronze Age, Canaanite "sickle- sword "
Length 60cm,
$150 for a bare casting or $200 finished P&P £15 (within USA)






khopesh Middle Bronze Age, Canaanite "sickle- sword "
Length 60cm
The Israelites also used some traditional weapons. The story of Ehud, who plotted a daring one-man assassination attack on
King Eglon of Moab, is told in Judges 3:12-30. The standard sword of this period was curved, with one sharp edge used for
slicing and slashing. It is sometimes called a sickle sword, and is the basis of the expression "smite the enemy with the edge
of the sword" [see, for example, Judges 1:8, 25; 4:15; 18:27, KJV]. This type of weapon would not have served Ehud’s need,
since it could not easily have been concealed from the palace guards, nor could it be used to thrust or stab to death. So the text
explains: "Ehud had made a double-edged sword about a foot and a half long, which he strapped to his right thigh under his
clothing" [Judges 3:16]. Such metal weapons were still very rare in Israel.
Because Ehud was left-handed, he hid his sword on the right side; right-handed soldiers would wear their swords on their left
side. This reversal may explain Ehud’s success in getting past the king’s guards. By implying that he was the bearer of a
confidential message, Ehud got rid of all of Eglon’s attendants. When Ehud told the king that his message was from God, Eglon
stood up and put himself in an ideal position for Ehud to stab him with the concealed sword. As the sword had been designed
for stabbing, it probably had a relatively short hilt, which would have penetrated Eglon’s fat body. Having accomplished his
piece of treachery, Ehud fled, calling his waiting men into battle. With their king dead, the Moabites would have retreated hastily
across the river Jordan to their homeland, or sought for reinforcements from Moabite territory. By taking control of the fords
across the river, Ehud’s men were able to win the ensuing battle decisively.
In another incident the judge Gideon told his son, Jether, to kill Zebah and Zalmunna with a sword (Judges 8:20). However,
Jether was afraid because of his youth, and Gideon did it himself. This is one of the rare instances recorded in the book of
Judges of an Israelite using a sword.
After Gideon’s son Abimelech had been severely wounded, he asked his armour-bearer to kill him (Judges 9:54). The armour-
bearer took the sword and killed Abimelech, as commanded. This was apparently one of the accepted functions of the armour-
bearer in these times; later King Saul made a similar request of his own armour-bearer (1 Samuel 31:4).
There is no record in Judges of other individual Israelites using the sword, and the only other conventional weapon mentioned
is the sling. We are told that 700 left-handed slingers from the tribe of Benjamin could sling a stone at a hair and not miss
(Judges 20:16).
Get those Philistines with
your Bronze age sickle
sword.
Samson’s weapons
Samson did not use orthodox weapons. When he
was met by a roaring lion, he had no weapons at
all; using his bare hands and brute strength, he
tore the lion apart as if it had been a tender young
goat (Judges 14:6).

On another occasion, he was weaponless because
he had just been handed over to the Philistines. He
picked up the fresh jawbone of a donkey (this must
have been heavier and moister than an old, dried-
out jawbone) and killed 1000 Philistines with it,
wielding it like a club

(Judges 15:15).

Discovering the Bible: Archaeologists Look at Scripture, ed. Tim Dowley, Marshall Morgan
& Scott Publications Ltd., Basingstoke, England, 1986, pp. 42-50. Reprinted with
permission from Tim Dowley at Three's Company, London, England. email:abg23@dial.
pipex.com
Spearhead Late Bronze Age,
Classic small spearhead
Length 12.7cm
The Philistines who were the dominant military power were preparing for war against Israel.
They had weapons of iron which implies that Israel generally did not, and were still using
bronze. In addition they had a champion soldier. A man  nine feet tall who was supposedly
invincible

Saul considered the situation hopeless, but swayed by David's insistence he gave in. He
dressed David in his own armour but David found the unaccustomed armour too restricting
and decided to discard it. Notice that only a sword and no sling is mentioned at this stage.
But David took his staff and selected five smooth stones from the stream, undoubtedly
chosen to give the best slinging accuracy and destructive power. It is reasonable to surmise
that even David expected to have to shoot more than once to bring his enemy down. He
went out to face Goliath.

As the Philistine moved closer to attack, David ran quickly to meet him. Whilst running, he
reached into his bag, took a stone and slung it at Goliath striking him on the forehead.
Whether the blow itself was sufficient to immediately kill Goliath is not absolutely clear but it
penetrated someway into his skull and he fell facedown on the ground. David ran to the
dying man and finished him off with his own sword. With their champion dead the Philistines
ran and the Israelites had a great victory. Eventually the young shepherd with a sling
became the most famous king of Israel and a great military commander in his own right.

The account records nothing about the actual sling David used, the range at which he hit
Goliath or other details we as slingers would love to know. But we can take a few educated
guesses. Firstly, the only definite thing is that there were five stones contained in his
shepherd’s bag. They could not have been too large to fit in there, probably about the size of
eggs. The range - close enough to be confident of hitting Goliath in his only really vulnerable
spot; his face, as the rest of him would have been protected by his armour. Yet far enough
away to be out of reach of both spear and to a lesser extent the javelin. It would be important
to make his first shot count as a near miss would have alerted Goliath to the danger, making
it even harder to hit him subsequently before he ran out of ammunition. Probably no more
than fifteen metres, using a fairly short sling, an overhand throw with minimal windup would
seem likely.

Ludwik Siedlecki (a.k.a. Ausieslinger)
Constructed with hinged cheek protectors, topped with a
royal brow crest of horse hair, and finished in bright steel
with brass accents. Realistic reproduction of the classic
design. Two crest colors to choose from.
Red Brow Crest
Helmet stand shown in picture not included, but available.
Cheaper Than Dirt
The Roman Centurian
Armor Helmet Hinged Cheek
Protectors with Crest of Red
Horse Hair.
David and Golith, the
sling lesson