The end of the Bronze age and early Iron age will see the rise and fall of the Egyptian and Hittite empire. In addition, the “sea peoples” will rise, including the Philistines. The sea peoples were from the Aegean Sea and a “Greek” related people. They established colonies along the Mediterranean coast, like Troy and Crete. These sea peoples introduced the Iron age because they discover the technology to make iron weapons.
Israel was not allowed these type weapons and had to have their tools sharpened by a Philistine (1 Sam 13.19-23). Short range weapons included the axe and a sword with a long blade and short handle. In the New Kingdom in Egypt, Kamoses used the sickle sword more than the axe. In the 13th century BC, the sea peoples began using a straight, long sword. They were mercenaries serving Egypt in the 19th dynasty. It was used in scaling ladders when assaulting fortifications. The spear was the basic weapon of the infantry.
The phalanx was the formation of the infantry, using overlapping shields and long spears. The sword, spear and axe was the “power” behind the phalanx. Egyptians did not use spears in their chariot corps, but other countries did. It was the weapon of the driver. In the battle of Kadesh between the Hittites and the Egyptians, the chariots were manned by two warriors and a driver. The bow was the most effective weapon at the time. It was used in chariots, infantry units and also in walled defenses. The composite bow was sought after by everyone, and workshops were built just to make them. They were difficult to make and not everyone had one. Small kingdoms and tribes didn’t have them.
When the Assyrians fought the Arabs it was no match. The Arabs had camels, no armor and a simple bow, while the Assyrians had chariots, armor and a composite bow. Spiritually, have you ever felt like that? Your enemy does whatever he wants to you, but you can’t do anything to him. What it comes down to is you haven’t moved into a group organized enough to produce and equip you with weapons you need to fight with.
On the other hand, the enemy has moved well past you. You need to be in a group that can produce the weapons and army you need to stand with against the enemy. When the Scriptures say “stand firm” in Eph 6.14 it means “don’t break ranks.”
Now, the composite bow was complicated to make and it needed special materials like birch tree’s from Lebanon, tendons from wild bulls, horns from wild goats and sinews from wild bulls.
It is the same way with our spiritual weapons. Remember the elementary principles of faith in Heb 6? There is a number of them and you need them all for your weapons. If you only had faith, you will never be able to put together a weapon, just like if you only had the wood from Lebanon, you could never make a composite bow. If you only had prophecy, or Torah you could not make a weapon. What you want is the best materials of all of it to make a “composite” weapon, “composed” of all truth. It is the “blending” of these that has the strength, not just one area. You must “diversify” in order to learn.
There were two types of composite bow, triangular and re-curved. Changes in humidity could damage the bow, so it was kept in a special case. It fit into the sides of a chariot, shaped like a bow. It could open easily, the bow strung and shot. The arrow was made of reed, strong, easy to shape and had arrowheads and feathers. The arrowhead was bronze, thick in the middle, later iron to pierce armor, but these were rare.
The Philistines did not use bows because they had iron weapons and liked to fight up close. We are going to briefly look at a battle between the Philistines and the Egyptians, and two things happen. The Philistines got slaughtered even though the Egyptians were using bronze age weapons. Also, the Philistines didn’t know how to effectively use the Iron age weapons they had.
Spiritually, how many times have you ever been “beaten up” by someone who didn’t know anything about the Scriptures. You knew what you were talking about and they didn’t, but you were made to look like a fool. You didn’t know how to effectively use your weapons or you were in a battle you should have never been in.
What the Egyptians did was lure the Philistines into a part of the Nile River where the Philistines could not maneuver their boats. The Philistines used sails, the Egyptians used sails and oars. So, rather than fight on the open sea, they fought on the river. The Philistines did not use bows and the Egyptians equipped their ships only with archers. They also had archers on the shore. The Egyptians rammed the Philistine ships, throwing the Philistines into water, where they were cut down by the archers on the shore.
Ever been in a battle like that? You had the best weapons but no wisdom, and you got “rammed” and shot by arrows and cut to pieces spiritually. Here is an important thing to remember. Strategy is how you direct the war, and tactics is how you direct a battle. You never, ever enter a fight without these two things in mind. We have made more mistakes coming in and fighting paganism than most people. However, it was the wrong time and the wrong place.
We came against idols, Madonna’s, nativity scenes, the crucifix and Christmas trees and all sorts of other things. The information that was being shared was from the Iron age and the people we were trying to reach were from the bronze age and didn’t even know what we were talking about. But, we got “rammed” and shot at with a bronze age arrow.
In Vietnam, the United States had all the modern weapons, but couldn’t win the war against a people who still used bows and arrows. You don’t do any good fighting battles like that because there are no tactics. The enemy will “bait” you by saying something to make you enter into a battle, and you jump right in. That is not wisdom. You may get into a “grocery store conversation” but you need four hours to give a proper back-round on something, but you enter into a conversation with someone and it ends up in an argument and you will get hurt.
If you had this mentality in an ancient army, you ended up a “sapper” and expendable, a bullet absorber. There is a difference between learning things and promoting things. God will promote his kingdom, but what he needs from us is an open heart to learn the truth. Then the Lord will use you to promote it. Sometimes the best things we can do is keep our mouths shut and learn, for years. But, we run out and start Bible Studies or churches and don’t have a clue about what we are doing or talking about.
Now, arrows were carried in long quivers made of leather on the shoulder, holding up to 30 arrows. The operator of the composite bow required strenuous training. You had to develop muscles, learn how to stand, hold the arrow correctly while drawing the bow so special practice ranges were set up for practice. Targets were rectangular pieces of wood fixed to a bar. For bows with great power for penetration, like the composite bow, a target of crude copper was used.
In the Iliad and the Odyssey, Odysseus had a composite bow that only he could bend and string. In the ending, he kills those who tried to coerce his wife Penelope into declaring him dead so someone could marry her. In the contest, nobody could bend the bow and marry Penelope. Odysseus comes to his house disguised as a begger and nobody recognizes him, but his old dog Argos does. Odysseus is laughed at and scorned when he asks to join the contest. He waits and bides his time. After all have tried, he picks up the bow and not only bends it and strings it, but puts the arrow through multiple axe heads, and then they realize who he really is. He then commences to destroy his enemies.
To handle the bow, it took skill. To handle the spear or the axe didn’t require as much. Some of you who are in the Lord’s army are those who use the spear or axe, or a shield. Each warrior has his own task. Others get to be archers. There is nothing worse than a spearman who wants to be an archer. Rank in this army comes from God, so don’t worry about that, but everyone has a function and it can change.
Some are spiritual snipers who are highly skilled in all aspects of the Scriptures and have the maturity to operate alone, without much fanfare and attention (see our articles on “The Spiritual Sniper” on this site for more).
In training for the bow, you would begin by using a simple bow, then move up to the composite bow. If you were in a major army and training on a simple bow, you were never sent into battle until fully trained. Archers had an arm guard to protect them from the weapon they were using.
Spiritually, we need to have guards from the weapons we use, too. For example, a passage can be overanalyzed until it loses its intended meaning and it can do you harm. For instance, the Scriptures concerning the manifestations of the Spirit has caused much harm and have made people afraid to move. The very things that are your weapons are also things you need protection from.
In Part 6, we will pick up with weapons of personal protection and apply them to your weapons in spiritual warfare.