In the New Kingdom in Egypt, late Bronze age, the helmet and armor were used more and more. Shields become smaller, with a round top and smaller at the bottom, with a little “peep” hole near the top. This is designed to protect the face and upper torso. The Philistines used “greaves” which was an armor for the legs and forearm (1 Sam 17.6).
Other middle eastern countries did not use them because of the heat. Shields were wood covered with leather, with a strap that could be lengthened so it could be carried on the back. He could scale a wall or a ladder, bending forward to let the shield protect their backs as they climbed. The light, circular shield (magen) was introduced by the sea peoples and were well armored, with a long sword and spear. The smaller “magen” shield was well suited for close combat. The worst thing you could have for hand to hand combat was a “zinah” shield, which protected the whole body. You can’t move and you are trying to protect yourself so hard that you shut yourself down. You need mobility.
Spiritually, we can become like that. We are so afraid of being hurt or embarrassed that we shut ourselves up “nice and safe” and don’t engage. But, you won’t grow because you are so afraid of making a mistake. People can be so afraid of saying the wrong thing that they get behind a “big shield”, but it is too hard to move around with. What happens is we get stagnant and complacent. We must have wisdom to handle the knowledge we get. Canaanite, Philistine and Syrian shields were rectangular.
There were two types: slightly convex and made out of reeds or wood covered with leather, or an oblong shield. In the 13th century BC, due to the sea peoples influence, even in Egypt the round shield (magen) appears in all the armies. The Hittite shield was shaped like a figure “8” and considered a body shield, but lighter.
Armor spread through the middle east by now, and it came about due to the advancement of the composite bow and the chariot. The charioteer and bowman had to use both hands, so armor was developed for them. The bowman could be protected by the distance he shot from, but the with the development of the composite bow, this was impossible. Special units were developed to destroy the archers specifically. Shields protected them.
A “buckler” is a soldier holding a shield for the archer and the “shield” was a “magen” (Ezek 38.4). Spiritually this means that sometimes we need to be the one “protecting” someone, and not the warrior striking the death blow, or the “hero.” Chariots had six spokes, and later eight, but then they went back to six. They were highly advanced and carried three people. They had a driver, an archer and a third person called a “shalish” meaning “third.” His job was to protect the driver and the archer by holding them in the chariot, using a magen shield to the right and left, and protecting them from behind with his body. The other two leaned on him when turning and this was a very dangerous job, but crucial to the chariot’s effectiveness.
A “coat of mail” was made with small scales, lighter than armor. As a result, the role of the “zinah” shield went down in usage. Coat of mail pieces are hard, very expensive and not all armies could afford them. Only the top troops had them, like the archers and charioteers. The rise in coat of mail coincided with the rise of the chariot and the composite bow.
Thutmoses III, possibly the Pharaoh of the Exodus, has the first major battle at Megiddo against the Canaanites. He claimed to have taken at least 200 sets of coat of mail as war booty. From paintings these covered the body. The weak point in in armor is where the sleeve joins the body (1 Kings 22.29-38 and the death of King Ahab). At first the scales were heavy, and by the first century it developed into chain mail, with some found in En-Gedi.
The Roman uniforms seen in most movies are what they wore in the west and cooler temperatures, but not in Israel where it was hot. Weight and the complications in manufacturing were the drawbacks to the coat of mail. Goliath’s scale armor was 156 lbs (1 Sam 17.5). All of these weapons were in a constant state of change, and spiritually, we should be too. We should not be the same from year to year, but balanced. There are several ways to do this. First, we can do this through the Scriptures, where we receive wisdom, rethinking things and refining.
The concept of the “omer” teaches us the concept of “refining.” The barley is harvested and beaten, separating the chaff. Then it is put into a skillet that is bronze and perforated. Then it is passed over a fire, where the chaff is purged off. Then it is put through 13 sieves, and each time it is refined further till it is so fine that the Gabbai Tzedekah of the Temple can put his hands in and remove them and nothing sticks to his hand. This is a picture of the corruptible made incorruptible, the mortal to the immortal. Truth may be received at the first sieve level and it needs to be refined further. This strips off the “chaff” of untruth that may be attached to it by false teaching. This gets us to the heart of what God is trying to say.
The mark of a righteous man, a “tzaddik”, is he is not the same as last year. The flesh (chaff) must be striped away and we undergo a change of status, from corruptible things to the incorruptible. Pride can get in the way, so we must study and be quiet at first. Prayer is the second way to stay balanced.
As we said before, chariots are changing during this period of the late Bronze age to early Iron age. The Hittites use a three man chariot and had at least 2500 at the battle of Kadesh. But, there was one problem. They did not use the bow in their chariot force. They used spears, so they could get beat by a force that used the bow. It came down to a long-range weapon having superiority over short-range weapons. Spiritually this teaches us that we may be attacking with a weapon that will allow us to get beat, or being attacked by a weapon we can beat. So we must accurately evaluate the situation and assess properly.
Two major powers are emerging at this time, Egypt and the Hittites. As Joshua comes into the land, most of the Canaanite cities he confronts will be under the Egyptian banner. Hittite defenses were strong and they had things called “posterns” in their fortifications, which were tunnels coming out of the city (Judges 1.23-26). Six have been found in a Hittite “lower city” that were 50 yards long and narrow, heavily fortified at the other end in case anyone ever came against them. The Hittites were famous for numerous walls in their fortifications.
Spiritually, if you are going to have “tunnels” out to confront the enemy, you better be strong with a good fortification yourself because the enemy will come right back at you through those tunnels. People like to be a “crusader” when they haven’t been a foot soldier yet. You have to wait, become mature and seasoned. We must learn and only proceed out if the Lord has instructed us to do so. When building a tunnel, you come against someone in a conflict in hidden, underground ways to get at them. However, these can be turned against you if that is ever found out.
Migdals, or “towers”, will come up during this time also. These are employed in communications and water sources. They were used by shepherds to watch the sheep (Micah 4). Spiritually, we can build our fortress with a lot of things about the Lord, but if we don’t have “water” we are in trouble. You don’t want to feed the enemy with your water (teaching). Find your source of water and protect it. If he can cut you off from it, he will have you beat on many levels.
Sometimes a family member will not want you to learn the Tanach or Hebraic thought, but don’t let them cut you off from your water source. Protect the source of truth you are learning from at all costs.
During this period, Megiddo was controlled by the Hittites, but it was a Canaanite city. Egypt did not use battering rams as they extended into Canaan. They would attack a city’s gates with axes. To breach the walls, you generally chose people who were least desirable and expendable called “sappers.” The kings got rid of people by sending them against the walls (Uriah-2 Sam 11.15). To defend your walls, you placed archers on the walls for counter-fire, used spears to attack those with scaling ladders and threw rocks (2 Sam 11.18-21). This involved heavy casualties and used against fortifications that weren’t very good, or whose troops were not the best. Very often, the invading army would resort to a siege or infiltration.
At Megiddo, the Egyptians had to get to Megiddo one of three ways. One was through the Via Maris, the way of the sea. The other two were from the north or south. The hardest way was through a narrow pass on the Via Maris to the Jezreel Valley. The troops didn’t want to take the hard way, but Thutmoses III found out by recon that less troops guarded it, so it was best. So he engages the Hittites in the valley, beside Megiddo, and won. But, he couldn’t maintain the attack because his troops stopped to plunder the dead. The Hittites ran back to Megiddo and it took nearly a year longer to win the victory.
Spiritually, when in a spiritual battle, you could lose the battle or have major problems by being distracted or giving up the fight too soon, before you achieve total victory. You must have a consistent walk. An example of this is in the book of Exodus. The Israelite walk was up and down. The Lord takes them to the wilderness where it was hard and not very easy, but the Lord says “I bore you on eagles wings.” We see this term again in Rev 12.13-17 . Israel had great victories and down moments, with grumbling and complaining leading up to Mt Sinai. They did not have a consistent walk, but the Lord was with them.
Spiritually, it is the same with us. We have had great victories, and then defeats. But we should be encouraged because the Lord is with us and he see’s things differently. He see’s it as “I brought you out on eagles wings” to where we need to be. The Lord knows we are in spiritual battles, how weak our flesh, is better than we do. Don’t get discouraged if your walk is up and down, as long as you are proceeding to the mountain of God where we learn the Torah. Where we should be discouraged is when we stop cold dead and stay where we are at.
When should our defenses go up? Following great victories and revelations from God. That’s when the enemy comes to discourage you, and that can come from family and the people around you. Why does this happen? Because you penetrated into his territory and he is going to challenge you, to get you to stop. We must keep moving forward and be mobile. If we don’t, it’s going to take longer, at great expense, like the Egyptians at Megiddo, to achieve the goal you could have had earlier.
In Part 7, we are going to pick up here and start discussing the matter of a siege, which will include if you are doing the besieging, or if someone puts a siege on you. We have all been in a “spiritual siege” even if you didn’t call it that at the time. We will discuss strategies in such a situation. A siege is “the pits” because you want the enemy to come out from behind the walls, or you need to hold out behind your walls. You just want it to stop. We will discuss concepts relating to a siege in spiritual warfare that will help you at such a time and win the battle.