Armor; Armour

Concise Bible Dictionary:

None of the Hebrew words translated “armor” refer definitely to what is understood now by armor worn on the person. Saul armed David with his “armor” (1 Sam. 17:3838And Saul armed David with his armor, and he put an helmet of brass upon his head; also he armed him with a coat of mail. (1 Samuel 17:38)), but the word used is also translated “clothes,” and it may refer to Saul’s warrior-dress. The articles named are somewhat more definite.
1. Saul put on David a HELMET of “brass.” These were raised a little above the head, as may be seen by some of the sculptures from Nineveh (1 Sam. 17:3838And Saul armed David with his armor, and he put an helmet of brass upon his head; also he armed him with a coat of mail. (1 Samuel 17:38); Ezek. 23:2424And they shall come against thee with chariots, wagons, and wheels, and with an assembly of people, which shall set against thee buckler and shield and helmet round about: and I will set judgment before them, and they shall judge thee according to their judgments. (Ezekiel 23:24)); the word is goba. Another word, koba, meaning the same, is found in 1 Samuel 17:5; 25And he had an helmet of brass upon his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of brass. (1 Samuel 17:5) Chronicles 26:14; Isaiah 59:1717For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloke. (Isaiah 59:17); Jeremiah 46:44Harness the horses; and get up, ye horsemen, and stand forth with your helmets; furbish the spears, and put on the brigandines. (Jeremiah 46:4); Ezek. 27:1010They of Persia and of Lud and of Phut were in thine army, thy men of war: they hanged the shield and helmet in thee; they set forth thy comeliness. (Ezekiel 27:10); and Ezekiel 38:55Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya with them; all of them with shield and helmet: (Ezekiel 38:5).
3. GREAVES. The giant wore Greaves of brass upon his legs (1 Sam. 17:66And he had greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders. (1 Samuel 17:6)). The word is mitschah, and occurs nowhere else.
4. TARGET. He had a target of brass between his shoulders (1 Sam. 17:66And he had greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders. (1 Samuel 17:6)): the word is kidon, and is elsewhere translated both “shield” and “spear.” In this case it was probably a small spear carried between the shoulders.
In the New Testament “armor” is used symbolically.
1. ὅπλα, in contrast to “the works of darkness” we are exhorted to put on “the armor of light” (Rom. 13:1212The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. (Romans 13:12)). Paul and his fellow-laborers commended themselves as God’s ministers by the “armor, or arms, of righteousness on the right hand and on the left” (2 Cor. 6:77By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, (2 Corinthians 6:7)).

“251. Helmets Cuirasses” From Manners and Customs of the Bible:

1. In the earliest times helmets were made of osier or rushes, and were in the form of bee-hives or skull-caps. The skins of the heads of animals were sometimes used. Various other materials were employed at different times. The ancient Egyptian helmet was usually made of linen cloth quilted. It was thick and well padded, sometimes coming down to the shoulder, and sometimes only a little below the ear. The cloth used was colored green, or red, or black. The helmet had no crest, but the summit was an obtuse point ornamented with two tassels. The Assyrian helmet was a cap of iron terminating above in a point, and sometimes furnished with flaps, covered with metal scales and protecting the neck. The Philistine helmet, as represented on ancient monuments, was of unique form. From the head-band there arose curved lines, by which the outline of the helmet was hollowed on the sides and rounded on top.
2. For the body, the skins of bents were probably the earliest protection in battle. Felt or quilted linen was also used subsequently. The ancient Egyptians had horizontal rows of metal plates well secured by brass pins. The ancient Assyrians had scales of iron fastened on felt or linen. Iron rings closely locked together were likewise used by different nations. Scales made of small pieces of horn or hoof were also used. Sometimes a very serviceable armor was made of small plates of metal, each having a button and a slit, fitting into the corresponding slit and button of the plate next to it. It is supposed that Ahab had on armor of this sort when he was slain; the “joints of the harness” being the grooves or slits in the metallic plates, or the place between, where they did not overlap (1 Kings 22:34; 234And a certain man drew a bow at a venture, and smote the king of Israel between the joints of the harness: wherefore he said unto the driver of his chariot, Turn thine hand, and carry me out of the host; for I am wounded. (1 Kings 22:34) Chron. 18:33). Goliath’s “coat of mail” was scale armor (shiryon kaskassim, “armor of scales”). This kind of armor consisted of metallic scales rounded at the bottom and squared at the top, and sewed on linen or felt. The Philistine corselet covered the chest only. On the bas-relief at Nineveh are seen warriors with coats of scale armor which descend to the knees or ankles. In one of the palaces Mr. Layard discovered a number of the scales used for this armor. Each scale was of iron two to three inches long, rounded at one end and squared at the other, with a raised or embossed line in the center, and some were inlaid with copper. At a later period the Assyrian armor was made of smaller scales, which were pointed and ornamented with raised figures, and the coat of mail reached no lower than the waist.

“252. Greaves Javelin” From Manners and Customs of the Bible:

1. Greaves were coverings for the legs. There are none represented on the Egyptian monuments, but they are seen on the Assyrian sculptures. They were of leather, wood, or, as in the case of Goliath, of brass, and were bound by thongs around the calves and above the ankles.
2. Kidon, here rendered “target,” is translated by the wordshield” in verse 45 of this chapter, and in Job 39:2323The quiver rattleth against him, the glittering spear and the shield. (Job 39:23); “spear” in Joshua 8:18, 2618And the Lord said unto Joshua, Stretch out the spear that is in thy hand toward Ai; for I will give it into thine hand. And Joshua stretched out the spear that he had in his hand toward the city. (Joshua 8:18)
26For Joshua drew not his hand back, wherewith he stretched out the spear, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai. (Joshua 8:26)
; Job 41:2929Darts are counted as stubble: he laugheth at the shaking of a spear. (Job 41:29); Jeremiah 6:2323They shall lay hold on bow and spear; they are cruel, and have no mercy; their voice roareth like the sea; and they ride upon horses, set in array as men for war against thee, O daughter of Zion. (Jeremiah 6:23); and “lance” in Jeremiah 50:4242They shall hold the bow and the lance: they are cruel, and will not show mercy: their voice shall roar like the sea, and they shall ride upon horses, every one put in array, like a man to the battle, against thee, O daughter of Babylon. (Jeremiah 50:42). It was probably a light javelin, which could be easily hurled at an enemy. Some suppose it to have been decorated with a flag, like the lances of the Polish lancers. It would seem from this verse that when not in actual use it was carried on the back; for this is the meaning of “between the shoulders.” It was probably slung across he shoulders by means of a leathern strap.

“253. Spear Large Shield.” From Manners and Customs of the Bible:

1. The chanith, “spear,” was a heavier weapon than the kidon. See preceding note. The word is rendered both “spear,” and “javelin.” It was the chanith with which Saul endeavored to strike David (1 Sam. 18:10-11; 19:9-1010And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied in the midst of the house: and David played with his hand, as at other times: and there was a javelin in Saul's hand. 11And Saul cast the javelin; for he said, I will smite David even to the wall with it. And David avoided out of his presence twice. (1 Samuel 18:10‑11)
9And the evil spirit from the Lord was upon Saul, as he sat in his house with his javelin in his hand: and David played with his hand. 10And Saul sought to smite David even to the wall with the javelin; but he slipped away out of Saul's presence, and he smote the javelin into the wall: and David fled, and escaped that night. (1 Samuel 19:9‑10)
) and which at another time he aimed at Jonathan (1 Sam. 20:3333And Saul cast a javelin at him to smite him: whereby Jonathan knew that it was determined of his father to slay David. (1 Samuel 20:33)). This heavy spear had at its lower extremity a point by which it could be stuck into the ground. It was in this way that the position of Saul was naked while he lay sleeping in the camp at Hachilah, his spear being his standard (1 Sam. 26:77So David and Abishai came to the people by night: and, behold, Saul lay sleeping within the trench, and his spear stuck in the ground at his bolster: but Abner and the people lay round about him. (1 Samuel 26:7)). This lower point of the spear was almost as formidable as the head. The Arab riders of today sometimes use it to strike backward at pursuers, and it was with this “hinder end of the spear” that Abner killed Asahel (2 Sam. 2:2323Howbeit he refused to turn aside: wherefore Abner with the hinder end of the spear smote him under the fifth rib, that the spear came out behind him; and he fell down there, and died in the same place: and it came to pass, that as many as came to the place where Asahel fell down and died stood still. (2 Samuel 2:23)). The size of Goliath’s chanith, is expressed by the description of the staff and of the head; the latter being of iron, in contrast to the brass head of his kidon, and to his brazen helmet, cuirass, and greaves. See also note on Jeremiah 46:44Harness the horses; and get up, ye horsemen, and stand forth with your helmets; furbish the spears, and put on the brigandines. (Jeremiah 46:4) (#555).
2. The tsinnah, “shield,” was the largest kind of shield, and was designed to protect the whole body. This shield, as represented on the Egyptian monuments, was about five feet high, with a pointed arch above and square below. The great shield of the Assyrians, as is shown by their sculptures, was taller, and of an oblong shape, and sometimes had at the top an inward curve. The large shields were generally made of wicker work or of light wood covered with hides. They were grasped by a handle of wood or of leather. Goliath had man to bear his great shield before him. In the Assyrian sculptures there are representations of warriors fighting in this manner, with men before them holding the large shields, with the bottom resting on the ground, thus forming movable breastworks. The great shields of the Philistines seem to have been of circular shape.
The beauty of the figure used in Psalm 5:1212For thou, Lord, wilt bless the righteous; with favor wilt thou compass him as with a shield. (Psalm 5:12) is heightened by the fact that the tsinnah is the shield there spoken of. The Lord uses the great buckler for the protection of his people.