ARMS, ARMOUR. In order to give a clear view of this subject, we shall endeavour to shew succinctly, and from the best authorities now avail able, what were the weapons, both offensive and defensive, used by the ancient Asiatics; leaving to be found under other heads the composition and tactical condition of their armies ; their systems of fortification; and, finally, their method of con ducting sieges and battles; and their usages of war as regards spoil, captives, etc.
The instruments at first employed in the chace, or to repel wild beasts, but converted by the wicked to the destruction of their fellow-men, or used by the peaceable to oppose aggression, were naturally the most simple. Among these were the club and the throwing-bat. The first consisted originally or a heavy piece of wood, variously shaped, made to strike with, and, according to its form, denominated a mace, a bar, a hammer, or a maul. This weapon was in use among the Hebrews ; for, in the time of the kings, wood, had already been superseded by metal ; and the 711= t..nv shevet barzel, rod of iron (Ps. ii. 9), is supposed to mean a mace, or gavelock, or crowbar. It is an instrument of great power when used by a strong arm ; as when Van Amburgh, with one in his hand, compels a tiger's ferocity to submit to his will. (See Wilkin son's Manners and Customs of theAncient Egyptians.
vol. i. p. 327, fig. 3, 4 ; and mace, fig. r, 2. The throwstick or lissan occurs p. 329.) The other was also known, if, as is probable, MO nzaphieta (Prov. xxv. i8) be a maul, a martel, or a war used in every part of the East where the material can be procured. From existing figures, the dirk appears to have been early made of metal in Egypt, and worn stuck in a girdle (Wilkinson, i. 319); but from several texts (r Sam. xvii. 39 ; z Sam. xx. 8 ; and I Kings xx. r s), it is evident that the real sword was slung in a belt, and that girding' and loosing the sword' were synonymous terms for commencing and ending a war. The blades were, it seems, always short (one is mentioned of a cubit's hammer. It is likely metal was only in general use at a later period, and that a heavy crooked billet continued long to serve both as a missile and a sword. The throwstick, made of thorn-wood, is the same instrument which we see figured on Egyptian monuments. By the native Arabs it is still called lissan, and was anciently known among us by the name of crooked billet. These instru ments, supplied with a sharp edge, would naturally constitute a battle-axe, and a kind of sword ; and such in the rudest ages we find them, made with flints set into a groove, or with sharks' teeth firmly secured to the staff with twisted sinews. On the earliest monuments of Egypt, for these ruder instruments is already seen substituted a piece of metal with a steel or bronze blade fastened into a globe, thus forming a falchion-axe ; and also a lunate-blade, rivetted in three places to the handle, forming a true battle-axe (Wilkinson, vol. i. p.
325, 326) ; and there were, besides, true bills or axes in form like our own.
Next came the dirk or poniard, which, in the Hebrew word ,:nr1 therm, may possibly retain some allusion to the original instrument made of the antelope's horn, merely sharpened, which is still length) ; and the dirk-sword, at least, was always double-edged. The sheath was ornamented and polished. In Egypt there were larger and heavier swords, more nearly like modem tulwars, and of the form of an English round-pointed table-knife. But while metal was scarce, there were also swords which might be called quarter-pikes, being com posed of a very short wooden handle, surmounted by a spear-head. Hence the Latin telum and ferrum continued in later ages to be used for gladius. In Nubia, swords of heavy wood are still in use.
The spear, rini romach, was another offensive weapon common to all the nations of antiquity, and was of various size, weight, and length. Probably the shepherd Hebrews, like nations similarly situated in northern Africa, anciently made use of the horn of an oryx, or a leucoryx, above three feet long, straightened in water, and sheathed upon a thorn wood staff. When sharpened, this instrument would penetrate the hide of a bull, and, according to Strabo, even of an elephant ; it was light, very difficult to break, resisted the blow of a battle-axe, and the animals which furnished it were abundant in Arabia and in the desert cast of Palestine. At a later period, the head was of brass, and after wards of iron. Very ponderous weapons of this kind were often used in Egypt by the heavy in fantry; and, from various circumstances, it may be inferred that among the Hebrews and their imme diate neighbours, commanders in particular were distinguished by heavy spears. Among these were generally ranked the most valiant in fight and the largest in stature ; such as Goliath, ' whose spear was like a weaver's beam' (t Sam. xvii. 7), and whose spear's head weighed six hundred shekels of iron ; which by some is asserted to be equal to twenty-five pounds weight. The spear had a point of metal at the but-end to fix it in the ground, per haps with the same massy globe above it, which is still in use, intended to counterbalance the point. It was with this ferrel that Abner slew Asahel (2 Sam. ii. 22, 23). The form of the head and length of the shaft differed at different times, both in Egypt and Syria, and were influenced by the fashions set by various conquering nations.