also known as: 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 translations, the word is generally used to refer to protective body coverings.
The shield or buckler were major elements of defensive armor. There was the great shield or target, for the protection of the whole person (Genesis 15:1; Psalm 47:9; 1 Samuel 17:7; Proverbs 30:5), and the buckler or small shield (1 Kings 10:17; Ezek. 26:8). In Psalm 91:4 “buckler” is actually a roundel used by archers or slingers.
In describing the “whole armor of God” (Ephesians 6:14-17), Paul was referring to the Roman soldier’s panoply—a complete set of arms or suit of armor. The “shield of faith” would be like the soldier’s scutum, a door-like oblong shield above all, i.e., covering the whole person, not just a small round shield. There was no armor for the back, but only for the front.
Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God —Ephesians 6:14-17 NKJV
Elements of Biblical defensive armor included:
- helmet (Ezek. 27:10; 1 Samuel 17:38)—a covering for the head
- coat of mail or scale-armor (1 Samuel 17:5)
NKJV: …he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze.
NASB: …he was clothed with scale-armor which weighed five thousand shekels of bronze.
- cuirass or corselet—a piece of defensive armor consisting of a breastplate and backplate fastened together covering the trunk—composed of leather or quilted cloth or perhaps metal
- habergeon (Neh. 4:16)
- breastplate or harness (Rev. 9:9), for the covering of the back and breast and both upper arms (Isaiah 59:17; Ephesians 6:14)
- greaves—leg covering worn in the time of David (1 Samuel 17:6)
The offensive weapons were different at different periods of history.
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 Samuel 17:39; 2 Samuel 20:8; 1 Kings 20:11).
The bow was the main offensive weapon. The arrows were carried in a quiver, the bow always unbent till the moment of action (Genesis 27:3; 48:22; Psalm 18:34). The sling was a favorite weapon of the Benjamites (1 Samuel 17:40; 1 Chronicles 12:2. Compare 1 Samuel 25:29).