Luke 22:36 sword? (G3162)

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Eoghan

Puritan Board Senior
How large were these swords? When thinking of swords it is easy to think of the long swords used in the Medieval period but I suspect these would be short swords or as a Scotsman would say a dirk, the sidearm or secondary weapon to the claymore.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Yes, a short sword or dagger is what seems to be in view with the particular word chosen.
 

Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
The Greek word used here, μάχαιρα, while technically referring to a type of ancient Greek single-edged sword made of bronze, here presumably refers to a sword which would be much more typical in the first century.

A gladius-type sword had a blade that was commonly under two feet in length, was two-edged and made of iron. Iron, though strong and able to keep its edge better than bronze (which was in use in earlier periods), can be quite brittle, and the longer the blade, the more breakable.

The comparative shortness of the gladius (or of other ancient swords, for that matter) should not be thought of as a deficiency. The martial arts of the day suited a sword like the gladius, which was used for thrusting and cutting, rather than for fencing. Additionally, a Roman soldier of the period employed a large rectangular shield (scutum) and also made use of other weapons, such as a javelin. The style of warfare was very different from what comes in the mediæval period and afterwards.

The point is that, yes, we should not have in mind anything like a late mediæval or early modern sword, or, say, Andúril, Flame of the West, reforged from the shards of Narsil. This is not because a sword of the period was a secondary weapon, but because very long swords were not a thing.
 
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TheInquirer

Puritan Board Freshman
Contra pacifist interpretations, I believe that the swords Jesus was speaking of were as literal as the moneybag, knapsack, and cloak (I know that wasn't what you were asking but it was the only contribution I had to offer ;) )
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
While I believe they were literal swords, short swords, to be precise, and while I believe pacifism is simply Live Action Role Playing (because pacifists depend on policeman to use lethal violence to protect their wealth and property), I don't believe Jesus is telling his disciples to have their nines cocked and ready to go Tombstone.
 

TheInquirer

Puritan Board Freshman
I don't believe Jesus is telling his disciples to have their nines cocked and ready to go Tombstone.
If it's Tombstone, it would be having your sixes cocked.... :)

ISBE entry on "Weapons" lists "machaira" (GK. term used in Luke 22:36) are probably smaller than the other term used in Scripture for sword ("romphaia"). Dictionary of Biblical Languages says the term refers to a short sword or dagger (ISBE says daggers were typically 16 in. or smaller so short swords longer). Term is used 29 times in the NT and can refer to generally a sword or war/fighting (NIDNTTE). I remember reading the Romans typically used short swords but longer swords were in use in by other peoples (Goliath's sword, Greek military) so hard to know if Jesus is really being specific about length or type in this passage.
 

Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
If it's Tombstone, it would be having your sixes cocked.... :)

ISBE entry on "Weapons" lists "machaira" (GK. term used in Luke 22:36) are probably smaller than the other term used in Scripture for sword ("romphaia"). Dictionary of Biblical Languages says the term refers to a short sword or dagger (ISBE says daggers were typically 16 in. or smaller so short swords longer). Term is used 29 times in the NT and can refer to generally a sword or war/fighting (NIDNTTE). I remember reading the Romans typically used short swords but longer swords were in use in by other peoples (Goliath's sword, Greek military) so hard to know if Jesus is really being specific about length or type in this passage.
It is extremely doubtful that bronze weapons are in view here. Goliath lived one thousand years prior to the events recorded in Luke's Gospel. The bronze swords of the Greeks also would have been outdated by this time.

That is not to say bronze weapons would have been ineffective. But high-quality bronze - of the type you'd need to make a sword - was prohibitively expensive. To make it, you need the right amounts of copper and tin, which are not usually found together (necessitating long-distance trade) and which are less plentifully available than iron.

Once metallurgical technology had improved so as make smelting and forging iron easier, bronze, though it has its advantages, had had its day.

(But the type of sword and its length, I agree, are not really the point of the passage.)
 

Eoghan

Puritan Board Senior
In describing them as swords a military ethos is engendered, if the translation were dirk or dagger then defence rather than offensive capability comes to the fore. My point is that these swords did not mark out Peter as a swordsman like Athos, Porthos and Aramis but would have been a dagger probably invisible from a distance. Peter was able to slice with it and apparently had a scabbard so it was worn as an item, presumably on top of his clothing.

I am not sure that there really was a developed police force, so you pretty much had to take steps to protect yourself. Anyone think of a similar society today?
 

TheInquirer

Puritan Board Freshman
My thinking is that as missionaries ready to be sent out on the Great Commission, you would need protection on the roads from bandits in your travels between countries and regions. Tools for self-defense were thus as necessary as a cloak, napsack, and shoes.

If correct, I think the principle of sanctioned self-defense with weapons applies everywhere since the police are never everywhere at the right time to protect you.
 
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