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armor, armour

The word armor is used many times in English Bibles. In the King James Bible it is used to indicate military equipment, both offensive and defensive. In other versions, the word is generally used to refer to protective body coverings.

  1. DEFENSIVE ARMOR—The shield or buckler were major elements of defensive armor. There was the great shield or target, for the protection of the whole person (Gen. 15:1; Ps. 47:9; 1 Sam. 17:7; Prov. 30:5), and the buckler or small shield (1 Kings 10:17; Ezek. 26:8). In Ps. 91:4 “buckler” is actually a roundel used by archers or slingers.

    Other elements included the helmet (Ezek. 27:10; 1 Sam. 17:38), a covering for the head; the coat of mail or corselet (1 Sam. 17:5), or habergeon (Neh. 4:16), and the harness or breastplate (Rev. 9:9), for the covering of the back and breast and both upper arms (Isa. 59:17; Eph. 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 (1 Sam. 17:6).

    Paul (Eph. 6:14-17) referred 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 armor for the back, but only for the front.

  2. OFFENSIVE WEAPONS—The offensive weapons were different at different periods of history. The “rod of iron” (Ps. 2:9) is supposed to mean a mace or crowbar, an weapon of great power when used by a strong arm. The “maul” (Prov. 25:18; cognate Hebrew word translated “battle-axe” in Jer. 51:20, and “slaughter weapon” in Ezek. 9:2) was a war-hammer or martel.

    The “sword” is the usual translation of “hereb,” which properly means “poniard” [a slender bladed dagger]. The real sword, as well as the dirk-sword (which was always double-edged), was also used (1 Sam. 17:39; 2 Sam. 20:8; 1 Kings 20:11).

    The spear was another offensive weapon (Josh. 8:18; 1 Sam. 17:7). The javelin was used by light troops (Num. 25:7-8; 1 Sam. 13:22). Saul threw a javelin at David (1 Sam. 19:9-10).

    The bow was the main offensive weapon. The arrows were carried in a quiver, the bow always unbent till the moment of action (Gen. 27:3; 48:22; Ps. 18:34). The sling was a favorite weapon of the Benjamites (1 Sam. 17:40; 1 Chr. 12:2. Compare 1 Sam. 25:29).

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Author: Matthew G. Easton, edited by Paul S. Taylor.