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The meaning of Armour in the Bible
(From Easton's Bible Dictionary)

is employed in the English Bible to denote military equipment, both offensive and defensive.

  • The offensive weapons were different at different periods of history. The "rod of iron" (Psalms 2:9) is supposed to mean a mace or crowbar, an instrument of great power when used by a strong arm. The "maul" (Proverbs 25:18; cognate Hebrew word rendered "battle-axe" in Jeremiah 51:20, and "slaughter weapon" in Ezekiel 9:2) was a war-hammer or martel. The "sword" is the usual translation of hereb , which properly means "poniard." The real sword, as well as the dirk-sword (which was always double-edged), was also used (I Samuel 17:39; 2Sam 20:8; I Kings 20:11). The spear was another offensive weapon (Joshua 8:18; I Samuel 17:7). The javelin was used by light troops (Numbers 25:7,8; I Samuel 13:22). Saul threw a javelin at David (I Samuel 19:9,10), and so virtually absolved him from his allegiance. The bow was, however, the chief weapon of offence. The arrows were carried in a quiver, the bow being always unbent till the moment of action (Genesis 27:3; 48:22; Psalms 18:34). The sling was a favourite weapon of the Benjamites (I Samuel 17:40; I Chronicles 12:2. Compare I Samuel 25:29).

  • Of the defensive armour a chief place is assigned to the shield or buckler. There were the great shield or target (the tzinnah ), for the protection of the whole person (Genesis 15:1; Psalms 47:9; I Samuel 17:7; Proverbs 30:5), and the buckler (Heb. mageen ) or small shield (I Kings 10:17; Ezekiel 26:8). In Psalms 91:4 "buckler" is properly a roundel appropriated to archers or slingers. The helmet (Ezekiel 27:10; I Samuel 17:38), a covering for the head; the coat of mail or corselet (I Samuel 17:5), or habergeon (Nehemiah 416;16), harness or breat-plate (Revelation 9:9), for the covering of the back and breast and both upper arms (Isaiah 59:17; Ephesians 6:14). The cuirass and corselet, composed of leather or quilted cloth, were also for the covering of the body. Greaves, for the covering of the legs, were worn in the time of David (I Samuel 17:6). Reference is made by Paul (Ephesians 6:14-17) to the panoply of a Roman soldier. The shield here is the thureon, a door-like oblong shield above all, i.e., covering the whole person, not the small round shield. There is no armour for the back, but only for the front.


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