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Jared M. Olson




Location: South Bend, IN
Joined: 03 Jan 2006

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PostPosted: Sun 28 Jan, 2007 1:49 pm    Post subject: Israel's Monarchal Age Arms...         Reply with quote

Greetings. Being still relatively new to this forum and topic of study, I've browsed as many of the forum posts as possible in order to make this post as educated as possible.

I am a student of Old Testament and Hebrew archaeology and I am also very interested in historic arms and armour. As such, I was wondering if any of you have any knowledge about the types of arms and armour used by the Israelites and their opponents during their monarchal age (i.e. From Saul ~1050 BC to Exile ~722/586 BC).

My guess, if I had to make one, would be that their equipment would be similar to most late bronze age/early iron age equipment like that used by the Greeks, or that used by the Egyptians.

The only few examples of wepons from even close to this era that I could find on the site are the Greek Xiphos and Kopis, and the Egyptian Khopesh http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...ht=ancient

Any light you might shed on this topic would be greatly appreciated...

Thanks in advance.
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Richard R.





Joined: 26 Jan 2007

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PostPosted: Mon 29 Jan, 2007 6:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I too am an OT scholar and I recommend to you the books of 1 & 2 Samuel and 1&2 Chronicles. Something interesting to note is that we know from 1 Samuel 13 that Saul and Jonathan were the only ones at that time in all of Israel to have swords: the Israelites were under Philistine opression at that time (the Philistines we know to have been a rather advanced people of Mycean origin, so it is a safe guess that they would have used similar weapons to the Greeks of their times) and the Philistines did not allow them the technology to develop swords. Consequentially the spear, sling, and bow were the national weapons of Israel at this time, along with probably whatever could be developed from farm impliments.

David, however, very likely acquired this technology during his sojurn with the Philistine king Achish of Gath (1 Samuel 21) because from that time on there are accounts listed of the Israelites having swords, first of David's mighty men, and later of Israel as a nation. Since their weapon style would have been, at least initially, copied from the Philistines from whom they took the technology, it is probably a safe supposition that during King David's time swords similar to those fashioned by the Greeks were used. During Solomon's reign Israel's trade and technological height reached its peak and so it is possible for them to have copied weapons similar to the other advanced civilizations of their time such as the Egyptians, or to have simply retained the Mycean design.

Hope that helps!
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Jared M. Olson




Location: South Bend, IN
Joined: 03 Jan 2006

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PostPosted: Mon 29 Jan, 2007 8:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have been doing a little more research on this topic given what you've noted Richard. The biblical text does indicate that Israel didn't have the capability of making swords or spears:

I Samuel 13:19 'Now no blacksmith could be found in all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said, "Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears."'

It seems that this must have been as the result of some Philistine ban, rather than a lack in technological advancement on the part of the Hebrews. I say this because it seems very plausible that the Hebrews would have gained the understanding of swordsmithing from the Egyptians during their capitivity there, and it is likely that they used such weapons in their conquest of the Canaanites.

I quote, "Presumably, the Israelites enetered the Promise Land with typical Egyptian military hardware. Therefore, some of the armed force would have functioned as sligers and others as archers. For close combat, the troops would have carried, axes, spears and short swords." Archaeology and the Old Testament by Alfred J. Horeth, Baker Books: 1998.

Horeth here seems to be speculating just as much as I am about this, so I'm not going to take his word authoritatively here. I'm sure there must be some sort of archaelogical record to verify his claims...anyone have any references?

Also, I have no idea what these short swords, spears and axes would have looked like. Anyone have any pictures?

Thanks again.
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Richard R.





Joined: 26 Jan 2007

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PostPosted: Mon 29 Jan, 2007 9:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Excellent point, Jared. I guess what I meant is that starting with the Philistine opression and ban of blacksmiths (which is safe to guess took place sometime during the period of the Judges) the technology would have been more or less lost so when the Israelites again began to manufacture swords they would probably be of the Greek/Mycean type as would have been the Philistine's.. There are lots of sources out there for what Greek weapons look like but I don't know if those would be the same as Mycean, though this seems likely. Anybody know if there was any noticeable distinction between the weapons of the Greek/Dorian and the Mycean cultures? If so, do you have illustrations?
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
Joined: 17 Sep 2003

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PostPosted: Mon 29 Jan, 2007 9:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Richard R. wrote:
There are lots of sources out there for what Greek weapons look like but I don't know if those would be the same as Mycean, though this seems likely. Anybody know if there was any noticeable distinction between the weapons of the Greek/Dorian and the Mycean cultures?


It's a good question, especially since many modern scholars even doubt the existence of "Dorians"! Pretty much anything Bronze Age from Greece is considered Mycenaean, and after that is just "Iron Age Greek". Weapons developed from one era to the next with no discernable break, as far as I know, though it was certainly the Naue type II sword that went from a bronze version to an iron one and then developed into the classic Hoplite sword. The other types of Mycenaean bronze sword do not seem to have survived to the Iron Age.

There are a couple discussions of Hebrew weapons on the Sword Forum which might help:

http://forums.swordforum.com/showthread.php?t=63080

http://forums.swordforum.com/showthread.php?t=74759

It's a mysterious topic! Khairete,

Matthew
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Richard R.





Joined: 26 Jan 2007

Posts: 13

PostPosted: Mon 29 Jan, 2007 9:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As far as I can tell the Bronze Age Greek weapon seems to have been mostly of the Naue II variety; that is, a short, straight, tapering blade probably used for thrusting and stabbing once it got too close for your spear to do its work. Here are a few pictures I found.

http://oncampus.richmond.edu/academics/classi...Swords.jpg

http://www.sikyon.com/Mykinai/Art/images/knife3.jpg

All things considered I think it is highly likely that this would be the sort of sword used by the Israelites during the Monarchical period -- at least from David on because it would have been the same kind of sword used by the Philistines. However, if anybody can dig up any actual historical evidence that is more than just speculation I would be only too happy to admit the fact that I guessed wrong.

But again, Jared made a good point. The Israelites would probably have used Egyptian weapons while invading Caanaan, and then probably Caanaanite weapons taken from spoil after battles until the Philistines began opressing them and no longer allowed them to make their own weapons. I will try to inquire into my history books as to when that ban actually began as it would probably afford us some good clues too.
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Richard R.





Joined: 26 Jan 2007

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PostPosted: Mon 29 Jan, 2007 10:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hey again!

Just thought I'd include a link to a very excellent article on the subject by James Moyer. In it he makes note of the rarity of swords as an Israelite weapon even before the opression by the Philistines, while noting that the swords they would have used at least in the time of the Judges were likely Egyptian Scimitars. He cites several instances of Israelites using unconventional weapons (an Ox Goad, among other things, which might work as a sort of improvisional spear).

http://www.wcg.org/lit/bible/hist/weapons.htm

Also, thus far I have only commented upon the lack of swords in Israel. As for what they probably DID have, the book of 1 Chronicles gives us a very good idea in chapter 12. Starting at verse 2, bows and slings are mentioned. Then, in verse 8, men capable of wielding the 'shield and buckler' ('buckler being a poor translation on the part of the KJV scholars... The actual Hebrew word usually means a javelin or other iron-pointed thrown projectile)... Verse 24 mentions shield and spear.

So what I think we have here is a culture that favors missile weapons, shields, and spears as a whole. Verse 27 of the same chapter also mentions 'all instruments of war' -- an interesting phrase in the Hebrew which refers to a hodgepodge of any number of articles that may or may not have been originally intended for battle. Like Ox Goads. Big Grin

I will keep searching and let you know what I find.
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Jonathan Blair




Location: Hanover, PA
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PostPosted: Mon 29 Jan, 2007 10:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The sword of Goliath, David's personal weapon during his flight from Saul and presumably later during David's reign, would have been a bit longer than the average due to it's use to behead Goliath. It is likely that this sword, being originally the sword of the Philistine champion, would have been of above-average manufacture and perhaps the cutting edge (no pun intended) technology of the period and region.
"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword." - The Lord Jesus Christ, from The Gospel According to Saint Matthew, chapter x, verse 34, Authorized Version of 1611
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Richard R.





Joined: 26 Jan 2007

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PostPosted: Mon 29 Jan, 2007 10:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

...to say nothing of its being weightier and larger than the average sword, in all likelihood, due to its belonging to a giant. In all, definately a kingly weapon and one with which someone of David's prowess could certainly have acquitted himself well.
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Jared M. Olson




Location: South Bend, IN
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PostPosted: Mon 29 Jan, 2007 5:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks everyone for all the great input! I've visited all of the links and they are packed with information. I'm glad to have a great place to talk about these topics...

One last question...does anybody out there make quality reproduction bronze swords like the ones we've been discussing? I think it'd be great to have a few on my walls...

Thanks again!
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Jared M. Olson




Location: South Bend, IN
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PostPosted: Mon 29 Jan, 2007 7:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As I was thinking more about the arms and armor of the Israelites of this period, I never stopped to consider that Israel's monarchal period was well into the Iron Age. For some reason I was expecting the swords to be Bronze Age...which leads me to another question. I've heard that early iron swords were not as durable or quality as the better made bronze swords. Was iron (and consequently, steel) common in tools and weapons during this period (1000 BC - 586BC), or was bronze still the better choice? You'd think given my interest in archaelogy I would know this, but I've focused too much on texts and not artifacts...!
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Richard R.





Joined: 26 Jan 2007

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PostPosted: Tue 30 Jan, 2007 6:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would think that based on the evidence Iron was the better material by the time of Israel's monarchical age, as the Israelites of the time seemed to place a great deal of importance in iron weapons.
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David Wilson




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PostPosted: Tue 30 Jan, 2007 9:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared M. Olson wrote:


One last question...does anybody out there make quality reproduction bronze swords like the ones we've been discussing? I think it'd be great to have a few on my walls...

Thanks again!


Neil Burridge makes the finest Bronze age replica swords available. They are almost identical to the originals, in terms of weight, balance and other physical characteristics (there are a few makers who make bronze swords, but they use inferior grades of bronze, and their swords feel like boat anchors rather than real swords. Mr. Burridge is one of few exceptions):
http://www.templeresearch.eclipse.co.uk/bronz...r_sale.htm

The only Egyptian/Canaanite style bronzes currently available (that I'm aware of) are made by Manning Imperial of Australia:
http://www.manningimperial.com/
The Canaanite sword is quite nice. Be aware, the Egyptian-style "Khopeshes" are very heavy.

David K. Wilson, Jr.
Laird of Glencoe

Now available on Amazon: Franklin Posner's "Suburban Vampire: A Tale of the Human Condition -- With Vampires" https://www.amazon.com/dp/B072N7Y591
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