Rhomphaia in the New Testament

Remember when I was playing with biblical weaponry and speculated on a muddy, probably-impossible-to-prove distinction between rhomphaia and machaira as divine and human swords, respectively?  You have suggestive uses like the cherubim wielding a rhomphaia to keep people out of the garden; you have an explicit contrast in Ezekiel’s doom against Egypt between the machaira Pharaoh wields and the rhomphaia God will give to Babylon; but mostly you have an unclear mixture of the two throughout the Old Testament.  It feels to me like there’s an idea lurking behind it all but much too obscure and inconsistent to do much with it.

Well, enter the New Testament.

New Testament authors refer to swords 36 times and there is a very strong pattern indeed.  Here’s a quick list, with commentary to follow. Continue reading Rhomphaia in the New Testament

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Biblical Weaponry

[This is an old draft I want to push out, warts and all, so that I can riff off of it with another post coming up.  It’s verrry imperfect but hopefully amusing.  This investigation is what inspired me to write my post on the Septuagint and the Masoretic text two years ago.]

You know who likes ancient weapons?  This guy.

Trying to get a handle on the use of framea for spear in the Vulgate sent me down a rabbit hole of Biblical word studies for naming all the different tools you can use to kill people.  There’s quite a tangled web of words and strange choices by biblical authors.

I’m no closer to being an archaeo-armorer, but I can share the fruit of my paltry labors.  Think of it as another “how to say ‘tree‘” post, but with gore this time. Continue reading Biblical Weaponry

Translating Psalms (75)

If you are not familiar with how the Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold, first read II Kings 18-19 (it’s also in Isaiah 36-37).  Then read Lord Byron’s immortal take, even though the psalmist beat him to it by about 2500 years.

For Holy Saturday, it is the harrowing of hell.

“Notus in Judaea” (Psalm 75)

[1] In finem, in laudibus. Psalmus Asaph, canticum ad Assyrios.

Unto the end, in praises.  A psalm for Asaph, a canticle unto the Assyrians. Continue reading Translating Psalms (75)

Translating Psalms (73)

Why indeed would God be angry with us?  Maybe because we just sold His Son into the hands of death?  A total desecration of God in the triumph of the enemy?  An overthrow of God in the garden of His holy place?

Sure if this weren’t Holy Week I could talk about what I think the historical setting of this psalm is–some later stage of the kingdom when the foreign cults were overwhelming the worship of God.  But that doesn’t matter compared to seeing Jesus heading to the garden to be betrayed by his friend.

“Ut quid, Deus” (Psalm 73)

[1] Intellectus Asaph. Ut quid, Deus, repulisti in finem, iratus est furor tuus super oves pascuae tuae?

An understanding of Asaph.  Why, O God, have You repelled unto the end, has been angry, Your fury, over the sheep of Your flock? Continue reading Translating Psalms (73)

Translating Psalms (68)

Really wishing I had looked ahead to see this one waiting for me after the long Psalm 67… My heart hasn’t really been in these as much this year given my other commits, but this is a great Lenten psalm with excellent Passion connections.  Just look at v. 22!  I can at least soldier on for gems like these!

“Salvum me fac, Deus” (Psalm 68)

[1] In finem, pro iis qui commutabuntur. David.

Unto the end, for them who will be all-changed.  To David. Continue reading Translating Psalms (68)