Project I've been slowly nibbling away at, any feedback app

Liechtenauer lineage and related sources (eg. Sigmund Ringeck, Peter von Danzig, Paulus Kal, Hans Talhoffer), interpretation and practice. Open to public view.

Project I've been slowly nibbling away at, any feedback app

Postby Alex H. » 07 Dec 2011 02:07

Morning all,

Couldn't figure out where to put this, so moderators feel free to move it as you see appropriate.

This is something that's been sitting on the backburner for some time, my biggest problem is finding medieval voices on the verses I've identified, I've got a few sources but not enough to make a serious effort worthwhile. All the quotes are from the NIV


A brief survey of the Sword in the Bible.


Divine Chastisement;

After the Fall, (Genesis 3:24) a flaming sword barred Adam’s entry to the Garden of Eden, and to God’s presence. The broken relationship signifies Hell, the fate of man outside of a relationship with God. Following the fall, the only way to God is through faith in Christ following the sacrifice on the Cross, which, representative of being hung on a tree, is an accursed way to die.

Exodus 5:3 – “may strike us with plagues or the sword” A curse for disobedience, used in the same context as a plague.

Exodus 32:37 – The Golden Calf, in this account the Levites, the priestly tribe, kill 3000 fellow Israelites with the sword for their blasphemy and idol worship while Moses is receiving the Ten Commandments, an example of God’s judgement being carried out by men of faith bearing swords.

Exodus 17:13 – As long as Moses holds his staff up the Israelites are defeating their enemy the Amalekites, who were physically larger and presumably stronger than the Israelites. When Moses lowers his staff the Amalekites begin to win the battle but when he holds it aloft the Israelites win. This is an example of God’s judgement being carried out by men of faith bearing swords, also of the insufficiency of man outside of God to perform the task at hand. C.f. Caananites.

Leviticus 26 – Blessings and Curses for Obediance and Disobediance. ANE Covenants were legal documents often completed with a selection of blessings for maintaining the covenants and curses for breaking them. Blessings – The Sword will not pass through the land, rather the Israelites will pursue their enemies with the sword. Curses – The Israelites will flee even when no one pursues them, “and I will bring the sword upon you to avenge the breaking of the covenant... I will scatter you among the nations and will draw out my sword and pursue you.”

Being killed by the sword in a trial by combat or judicial duel could be seen as divine chastisement for lying to the authorities and primarily, to God. God’s judgement takes the form of the opponent’s sword. Similar sentiment could be expressed for feud, war and crusade.


Sacrificing to the Lord.

When the Israelites conquered the Promised Land they came into the combat with the Canaanites and others who inhabited the land. For ease of reference I’m using Canaanites to refer to all the inhabitants of the Promised Land. The seven tribes were all associated with a particular sin and are represented in both Biblical and non Biblical ancient sources as being involved in the following five activities;

Infant sacrifice
Incest
Cultic Prostitution
Bestiality
Homosexuality

All of these are perversions of God’s commandments specifically related to life. Infants are to be dedicated not sacrificed. Sexual purity is a gift from God for the joining of two people in one flesh and the procreation of Man. The latter four activities are all perversions of God’s plan with long term effects for the health of both individuals and societies.

Further, Canaanites appear in history as violent, nationally and internationally, frequently engaging in unprovoked attacks and warfare. In particular the Amalekites attacked Israel for a period of between 200 to 400 years. The first records of Canaanites coincided with the sudden and widespread destruction throughout the ANE around 2300 to 2200 BC. In this case particular instructions were given to the Israelites concerning the warfare with the tribes in the Promised Land. Those that left voluntarily were not to be harmed, however if they fought they were to be totally destroyed including putting women, children and livestock to the sword, similarly the cultic objects were to be destroyed by fire as was the Canaanite capital, Hazor. The Canaanite kings were to be killed and their armies destroyed. This is reflected in the account of the fall of Jericho, “The devoted the city to the Lord and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it – men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.... Then they burned the whole city and everything in it, but the put the silver and gold and articles of bronze and iron into the treasury of the Lord’s house.” Josh 6:21 ff.

This is considerably different to the wars for law given in Deuteronomy 20:10ff which are similar for the practise of war in medieval Europe and which refer to war with the “distant nations” as opposed to the Canaanites.

“When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. If they open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labour and shall work for you. If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. When the Lord your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the Lord your God gives you from your enemies. This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby.” The nations nearby refers to the Canaanites.

The Word of God as a sword.

In Hebrew, the two edged sword is represented by is ‏פיפיות‎ "mouth mouths." Psalm 149. The law, and the word of God in general, is repeatedly compared to a two-edged sword among the Jewish writers, ‏חרב שתי פיפיות‎ chereb shetey piphiyoth, the sword with the two mouths. By this sword the man himself lives, and by it he destroys his enemies. This is implied in its two edges.

Eph 6:17 “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” In this text the author uses the Greek xiphos which generally refers to a leaf blade sword, yet seems to be describing Roman arms and armour of the day which would refer to the gladius. In either case the weapon is typically a two edged blade.

Heb 4:12 “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper and any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow, it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

Rev 2:16 “Repent therefore! Otherwise I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.” This is generally considered to be Christ speaking to a church engaging in idolatry.

The Sword in Personal Use.

Mt 26:52 “’Put your sword back in its place.’ Jesus said to him, ‘for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.’”

Some have argued that it indicates that neither Christ nor Christianity are to be defended by secular methods, however, as we have seen, God uses faithful men bearing swords to achieve exactly that. Further, Peter was carrying a sword, if Christ was so adamant that swords were never to be used why would he allow Peter to carry one, or, tell the disciples to carry them on their travels? (Lk 22:36) Why would God ensure his people were trained for warfare? Judges 3:2 “He did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience”

It is by God’s authority that Jesus will be executed on the Cross. Both the Jewish and Roman Governments who took the sword against Jesus were destroyed by the sword. The Jewish government by the Romans and the Romans by the Germans and others. Later in the same passage Jesus asks “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me?” While the NIV suggests that Jesus was leading a rebellion, other translations have use thief, robber and criminal. Regardless, proper authority when dealing with criminals is enforced by clubs and swords.

Augustin Calmet in “Dictionary of the Holy Bible” suggests that “they that employ the sword by their own authority, and would do themselves justice, deserve to be put to death by the sword of authority. Or this is a kind of proverb: those who take the sword to smite another, generally suffer by it themselves.” As did the Israelites in Genesis 34.
The sword was used to obtain corporate justice for a private act, but at the same time also forced Jacob to abandon the Promised Land, the wielding of the sword was also a sin, even though it achieved justice. Here we can read Garden of Eden, the Promised Land and Heaven as the same. C.f. Pinabel & Ganelon and the fate of his family.

Given that vengeful wergild was the basis of the method of justice for the properly constituted Germanic courts, and that should courts fail in their duty a feud was considered a reasonable progression, this could lead to some interesting paradoxes for a faithful knight.

The Sword as a Battle Cry

Judges 7:20 A battle cry – “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!”

The Armour of God

Eph 6:13 - Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of Salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.

Trial by Combat and Undressing the Armour of God.

You’ll notice there are seven items in the list of the armour of God. For someone undergoing a trial by combat we may observe the following;

The belt of truth may be removed. Both combatants will have sworn on oath that theirs is a just cause, and one must be lying. Also worthy of note, on the march, the breastplate, sword, shield and helmet all hung off the belt. If you have no truth, you have nothing.
The breastplate of righteousness may be removed, if both parties were righteous there would be no trial by combat.
The shoes of the Gospel of Peace may be removed, how can you have peace when entering a fight to the death?
The helmet of salvation may be removed, one combatant has lied on oath, possibly an oath taken on sacred relics, an oath before God, and now stands before God in judgement.

These four are all external items, we know that such is the case from observation of the situation. We are left with three internal or hidden items.

The Shield of Faith may be kept, both having faith that their cause will be won, one having a faith in God’s judgement, the other a false faith, either in his own arm or in some other false item.
The Sword of the Spirit may be kept, as it is the instrument of God’s judgement, judging “the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
Prayer is a necessary part of the ritual of trial by combat and the “prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” Jas 5:16, while the prayer of a sinner, presumably on the road to hell may not be so.

In the case of the poorer classes, and certainly in the post Roman period where the trial by combat was developing into the medieval practise the sword may have been replaced by the club due to financial practicalities. If this then passed into tradition it may explain some of the elements of trial by combat common throughout Europe.
Alex H.
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