Saturday, July 20, 2013
Sunday, July 7, 2013
The Sword of Laban and the War Scroll (of the Dead Sea Scrolls) Description of Ancient Israelite Swords
|War Scroll of the Dead Sea Scrolls|
In 1 Nephi 4:9 Nephi states, "And I beheld his sword, and I drew it forth from the sheath thereof: and the hilt thereof was of pure gold, and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine, and I saw that the blade thereof was of most precious steel.
|Luristan, circa 1500–500 BC. A cast bronze short|
sword with parallel-sided blade, integral guard
Welch points out that Laban's sword blade is made of "the most precious steel," while the swords of the Israelite army will have blades "of purified iron...whitened like a mirror." Nephi describes the hilt as being made "of pure gold." The Israelite swords will have a hilt "of select horn...with pattern in many colours: gold, silver and precious stones," though designs in pure gold are also mentioned. Both the Nephite and Qumran descriptions speak of the quality or "workmanship" of "craftwork" of the swords saying they were "exceedingly fine" or "of a skillful craftsman."
John Welch then goes on to compare the lengths. Because the War Scroll is very precise in the description of the length of the sword it makes it interesting because the Book of Mormon does not give the length of the Sword of Laban. Without knowing the measurement of a cubit used by the Israelites it can give us a couple of interpretations of the War Scroll sword length. It tells us that it was a cubit and a half in length, so if a cubit measured 17.5 inches then the total sword length would have been 26.25 inches long (just over two feet) while a cubit of 20.4 inches would give a length of 30.6 inches or 2.5 feet long. Welch reminds us at this point of a 7th century sword found in Verde Jericho which measured 3 feet in length and quotes William J. Adams who purposed that Nephi would have had a much easier time decapitating Laban using the longer sword. So is it possible that an Israelite leader such as Laban may have had a longer sword than the average soldier? This may or may not be the case but either way because Laban would have taken place before the War Scroll his type of sword may have been a direct influence for the "ideal" Israelite sword described in the War Scroll of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
|Layard’s Monuments of Nineveh, published in 1853, all of which I believe come from the Northwest Palace of Assurnasirpal (ruled 883-859 BC) at Nineveh and show the use of long swords.|