Subject: לוֹחֶם lochem warrior tribesman
Setting: settlement of Canaan ca.15th-13thcBC
* Sivertsen 2009 pxiv-xv
"[N]o one has been able to point to any direct textual or archaeological evidence for the historical veracity of the stories in Exodus and Numbers. No archaeological traces can be attributed to the early Israelites in Canaan before the early Iron Age (after 1200 B.C.E.), and there is no evidence of a distinct population of early Israelites in Egypt. The area west of the Jordan River reveals an archaeological picture quite at odds with the biblical accounts of the Israelite journey to the Promised Land, and there is little or no evidence of the Conquest, as it is described in the book of Joshua, in the archaeological record of the Late Bronze Age (1550-1200 B.C.E.) Canaan. In short, in ways large and small, the biblical story of the Exodus, the sojourn in the wilderness, and the conquest of Canaan does not agree with the archaeological picture that has emerged in the past forty-five years."The Exodus, if it has any historical reality, must have occurred no later than the thirteenth century B.C.E., for toward the end of that century the famous stela of the Egyptian pharaoh Merneptah mentions an entity 'Israel' already in existence in Canaan."
* Kelle 2007 p18-19
"There is growing consensus today that Israel did not conquer the land of Canaan from the outside but emerged from the consolidation of various foreign and indigenous elements. [...]
"Taken as a whole, the evidence that is available suggests that Israel and Judah originated in groups of villagers who came together for religious and political purposes in the hill country of Syria-Palestine around 1200. Despite the H[ebrew]B[ible]/O[ld]T[estament]'s picture, their early existence probably differed little from the many similar small kingdoms emerging across the area, and simply represented yet another example of a wave of settlements going on at this time."
* Smith/Hoffman eds. 1989 p150-151 (Robert P Carroll, "War" p147-170)
"The telling of this story [Israel's origins] reflects an ideology of 'total war' against a persistent enemy and belongs not only to the stories of Joshua's conquests (17:13), but also to a strand in the Bible of religious war. Different strategies and tactics of war may be seen in the other desert stories, where Israel comes into conflict with neighboring states: the avoidance of war with Edom (Num. 20:14-21); the annihilation of Arad and the Negeb cities (Num. 21:14-30); the destruction of the Ammonites (Num. 21:3-35); and conflict with Moab involving the internationally famous 'seer,' Balaam (Num. 22-24).
"The conquest and settlement of Palestine by the Israelite tribes is told in very different ways by the books of Joshua and Judges. Joshua presents an ideological myth of almost instant military conquest. Beginning with the legendary circumambulation of Jericho thirteen times in seven days (including the sabbath!), and with trumpets blasting on the seventh day, Joshua lays hold of 'the whole land' (11:23) in a few chapters (6-11).
"A rather different perspective on the conquest of Palestine appears in the Book of Judges (epitomized in Judg. 1). Throughout that book the tribes struggle, sometimes in vain, against their Canaanite opponents." ...
* Keller 1980 p162-164 (describing archaeology on the Battle of Jericho)
"[T]he walls of Jericho had to be rebuilt during the Bronze Age no less than seventeen times. The walls were repeatedly destroyed either by earthquakes or by erosion. Perhaps this weakness of the walls of Jericho found expression in the Bible account of how the children of Israel, in order to conquer Jericho, merely had to shout their war cry when the priests blew the trumpets. The middle Bronze Age city dated from the time of the Hyksos and came to an end at the same time as they, around 1550 B.C. Thereafter Jericho remained uninhabited for about a century and a half. It is only about the year 1400 B.C., as shown by pottery, objects found in graves and the few late Bronze Age remains of dwellings on the eastern slope of the hill, that people began to settle there once more. This late Bronze Age town, of whose existence we have only such sparse evidence, was again deserted by its inhabitants, however, around 1325 B.C. Did they become victims of conquerors of some kind who were subsequently absorbed in the melting-pot of 'Israel' and whose conquests were ultimately incorporated in the Biblical account of the settlement of the land? For if it is the case that Israelites until the time of the occupation, i.e., about the middle or towards the end of the 13th century B.C., they did not need to conquer the city for they found it uninhabited!"
Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)
* Sivertsen 2009 p118
"Late Bronze Age texts contain many reports of Habiru or 'Apiru in Canaan and elsewhere. ... [T]he term probably included the Israelites but was not limited to them. During this period the term 'Apiru developed a more negative meaning than it had had in the Middle Bronze Age. It now referred to bands of uprooted people who came down from the highlands into the lowland areas of Canaan and caused trouble for some local rulers and acted as mercenaries for others. Jephthah the Gileadite (Judges 11) was a typical 'Apiru of the Late Bronze Age. The son of a prostitute, Jephthah was forced by his legitimate brothers to flee Gilead. He became the head of an outlaw band, but when Ammonites attacked from the area of today's Ammon, Jordan, the people of Gilead asked Jephthah and his band to defend them. After he beat the Ammonites Jephthah fought with the Ephraimites (Judges 12), although they were, like himself, fellow Israelites.
"The most interesting reference to the 'Apiru appears in the early fourteenth century B.C.E. Amarna correspondence from Egypt. These clay tablets, found in the royal city of the pharaoh Akhenaten, include many letters sent by Canaanite rulers to the Egyptian court. These rulers often complain to their Egyptian overlord about raiding Habiru and plead for contingents of Egyptian archers to help defend against these marauders. In one of them, the ruler of Shechem is accused of being in league with the 'Apiru. Another letter from another Canaanite leader accuses the ruler of Sechem [sic] of being an 'Apiru himself. Several generations later the 'Apiru were still active around Shechem, much as the Israelites are reported to have been during the time of Abimelech (Judges 9)."
* Dougherty 2010 p97
"The early Hebrew army was well suited to guerrilla warfare in hills and rough terrain. When drawn out into open battle against a more formally trained and better-equipped army such as that of the Philistines or Phoenicians, the tribal force of the Hebrews was likely to be defeated.
"The essentially light-infantry nature of the Hebrew army made it very mobile, allowing surprise attacks and ambushes to be made on an enemy who thought the Hebrews were miles away. The Hebrew style of combat was also reasonably well suited to storming cities, where a close-quarters scramble tended to ensue once the attackers got inside the fortifications. However, getting onto or past the walls was a serious problem for the Hebrews, who resorted to all manner of stratagems and ruses to get inside, or were sometimes assisted by their kin dwelling in the city.
"Leadership tended to be loose and of an heroic nature. A tribal leader was expected to lead by example, fighting among his (or her) troops against the enemy's leader or champion. No tribal leader could command other tribes to send men to his assistance, but a request for aid usually resulted in at least a small contingent from each tribe, and more from those that were friendliest to the requesting tribe or felt that it was in their interests to respond.
"The greatest leaders -- Prophets and the semi-religious, semi-political leaders known as Judges -- could raise a massive host from the tribes, but it was not possible to maintain a large force in the field for long as the Hebrews lacked a sophisticated logistics system. Men started drifting home almost as soon as they had arrived, so even the largest army would quickly evaporate unless a very charismatic leader kept it together, or a truly desperate situation existed."
* Dougherty/Haskew/Jestice/Rice 2008 p39 caption
"The forces fielded by the Israelites (and many other nations of the time) were simply tribesmen who turned up with whatever weapons and equipment they possessed. A few men had swords or helmets, but most were armed with the most basic gear: a spear and shield. Nore were these well-drilled spearmen fighting in a phalanx-like formation. They were bound by kinship, loyalty to their tribe or to friends who fought alongside them, and by the charisma of their leaders."
* Kelle 2007 p20
"As the HB/OT present it, in the earliest period of a unified Israel and Judah (c.1200-1050), Israel's army was simply a militia of adult males summoned on an occasional basis. A lack of constancy and strength necessitated the avoidance of open battles and the practice of primarily guerrilla tactics, such as individual raids and night attacks."
* Daugherty 2010 p96
"The early Hebrew armies were simply large groups of tribal warriors with no armour and only basic equipment. Spears were the main infantry weapon. These were fairly short, as they were intended for use in a fluid melée rather than a close-order formation.
"For most of the time, spearmen fought as individuals, though the Hebrews' experience in many conflicts instilled a level of discipline and co-operation that substituted for training to some extent."
* Schwartz 1990 p150
"The spears and javelins used by the Israelites when they entered Canaan had wooden shafts and metal points. Warriors used the spear for thrusting, while the smaller, lighter-weight javelin could also be thrown."
* Sivertsen 2009 p146
"The men of 'Israel' depicted in the Karnak reliefs are dressed like other Canaanites in long gowns; the shasu wear kilts."
* Russell 1983 p40
"The major difference from the costume lines already seen as basic to the various civilizations of the Tigris-Euphrates Valley is that Hebrew costume has the large, enveloping draperies still found among the desert peoples of Arabia, Morocco, and Algeria. This use of full, flowing garments protects the head and body from the fierce heat of the sun and the penetration of blowing sands.
"In early periods the loincloth was frequently the sole garment; later it was merely an undergarment."
* Schwartz 1990 p150
"Early swords were generally short, straight, double edged, and used for stabbing in hand-to-hand combat. Judges 3:16 (TLB) describes Ehud's dagger: 'Before he went on this journey he made himself a double-edged dagger eighteen inches long and hid it in his clothing, strapped against his right thigh.'
"During the Israelite conquest of the Promised Land [CONTRA Kelle 2007 p18-19], a sickle-shaped sword became common, for it could be easily swung from the chariot. But by the time David fought Goliath, the long sword, introduced to the area by the Sea Peoples, would have been in the Philistines' hands."
* Burton 1884 p184
"We gather from the Hebrew writings that the Sword was originally of copper: hence the allusion to its brightness and its glittering: this would be followed by bronze, and lastly by iron, ground upon the whetstone (Deut. xxxii.41). It was not of flint; the 'sharp knives' alluded to in Joshua (v.2), were mere silex-flakes like the Egyptian. The Sword was used by foot-soldiers and horsemen, the latter adding to the 'light Sword' a 'glittering spear' (Nahum iii.3). The 'Chereb' was not a large or heavy weapon, and we may safely assume that its forms were those of the Egyptian hieroglyphs. The weight of Goliath's Sword is unfortunately not given (I Sam. xvii.45), like that of his spear and his armour; nor are we told anything about the blade which David refused because he had not proved it (ibid. 39). But the ease with which the son of Jesse drew out of the sheath thereof and used the Philistine's 'Chereb,' suggests a normal size and weight (ibid. 51 and xxi.9). It was much admired, for the victor said, 'There is none like that' (I Sam. xxi.9). From the same chapter and verse we learn that the blade was 'wrapped up in a cloth,' still an Eastern practice, 'behind the ephod' or priest's robe. And the fact of a man falling upon his Sword (I Sam. xxxi.4, 5) shows that the blade was stiff, short, and straight, like the Egyptian leaf-blade. Ehud the Benjamite, when about to murder Eglon, King of Moab (Jud. iii.16), 'made a two-edged Sword-dagger of a cubit length' (or eighteen inches), apparently without a sheath. The frequent mention of the double-edged Sword (or straight cut-and-thrust?) suggests that there were also single-edged blades, back-Swords or, perhaps, falchions. It is hard to understand why Meyrick tells us that the Jews wore the Sword 'suspended in front, in the Asiatic style.' Ehud (ibid. 16, 21) girt his weapon under his raiment upon his right thigh, and drew it with his left hand. Again, we read, 'Gird thy sword upon thy thigh' (Ps. xlv.3); and as Joab proceeded to assassinate Amasa (2 Sam. xx.8), the 'garment that he had put on was girded unto him, and upon it a girdle with a sword fastened upon his loins in the sheath thereof; and as he went forth it fell out.' The allusions to the oppressing Sword (Jer. xlvi.16; l.25) recall the Assyrian emblem of the Sword and the Dove, which are both figured in one image. Perhaps we must so understand the Egyptian Ritual of the Dead: 'I came forth as his child from his Sword.' Apparently the Chereb was worn, as by the civilised Greeks and Romans, only on emergencies and not, like the chivalry of Europe, habitually in peaceful towns."
* Fair Park > From Abraham to Jesus
"Curved sword. This sword was first used in the Ur III Dynasty and was found extensively throughout the ancient Near East in the 2nd millenium BCE -- in Anatolia, Syria, Canaan, and Egypt. By the end of the millenium, this sword was replaced by a longer and straighter one.
Josh. 11:12: 'Joshua captured all the royal cities and their kings. He put them to the sword; he proscribed them in accordance with the charge of Moses, the servant of the Lord.'"
* Daugherty 2010 p96-97
"Bows and javelins were in use, but the commonest missile weapon was the sling. The sling had the advantages of being very easy to carry and that its ammunition was readily available, but there was no time to look around for suitable stones in the middle of a battle, so men carried a pouch that could be filled on the march. Cast lead shot was also used in some cases. In addition to requiring more skill than a bow to shoot accurately with, a sling was restricted to a more or less horizontal trajectory. However, many Hebrews had used the sling since boyhood and were extremely skilled, and it was as lethal as a bow if it scored a direct hit."
* Daugherty 2010 p96
"Most men carried only a knife as a secondary weapon, and this was a tool more than a weapon."