1 Samuel 17:5
And he had an helmet of brass upon his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of brass.
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(5) A coat of mail.—More accurately, breastplate of scales. This armour has been sometimes understood as “chain armour,” but it is more probable that the Philistine armour was made of metal scales, like those of a fish, whose defensive coat was, no doubt, imitated at a very early date by this warlike race, who dwelt on the sea-shore, and whose life and worship were so closely connected with the great sea. This coat of mail, or corselet, was flexible, and covered the back and sides of the wearer. The weight of the different pieces of the giant’s panoply largely exceeds the weight of mediæval suits of armour.

1 Samuel 17:5-7. He was armed with a coat of mail — Made of plates of brass laid over one another like the scales of a fish. Five thousand shekels of brass — The common shekel contained a fourth part of an ounce; and so five thousand shekels made one thousand two hundred and fifty ounces, or seventy-eight pounds; which weight was not unsuitable to a man of such vast strength as his height speaks him to have been. Greaves — Boots. The staff of his spear like a weaver’s beam — On which the weavers fasten their web. It was like this for thickness. And though the whole weight of Goliath’s armour may seem prodigious, yet it is not so much by far as one Athanatus did manage, of whom Pliny relates that he saw him come into the theatre with arms weighing twelve thousand ounces. A shield —

Probably for state; for he that was clad in brass little needed a shield.

17:1-11 Men so entirely depend upon God in all things, that when he withdraws his help, the most valiant and resolute cannot find their hearts or hands, as daily experience shows.Coat of mail - Or "breastplate of scales." A kind of metal shirt, protecting the back as well as the breast, and made of scales like those of a fish; as was the corselet of Rameses III, now in the British Museum. The terms, helmet, coat, and clothed (armed the King James Version) are the same as those used in Isaiah 59:17.

Five thousand shekels - Probably about 157 pounds avoirdupois (see Exodus 38:12). It is very probable that Goliath's brass coat may have been long preserved as a trophy, as we know his sword was, and so the weight of it ascertained.

5. helmet of brass—The Philistine helmet had the appearance of a row of feathers set in a tiara, or metal band, to which were attached scales of the same material, for the defense of the neck and the sides of the face [Osborn].

a coat of mail—a kind of corslet, quilted with leather or plates of metal, reaching only to the chest, and supported by shoulder straps, leaving the shoulders and arms at full liberty.

The common shekel contained only a fourth part of an ounce; and so 5000 shekels made 1250 ounces, which make exactly 78 pounds; which weight is not unsuitable to a man of such vast greatness and strength, as his height speaks him to be.

And he had an helmet of brass upon his head,.... This was a piece of armour, which covered the head in the day of battle; these were usually made of the skins of beasts, of leather, and which were covered with plates of iron, or brass; and sometimes made of all iron, or of brass (g); as this seems to have been:

and he was armed with a coat of mail; which reached from the neck to the middle, and consisted of various plates of brass laid on one another, like the scales of fishes (h), so close together that no dart or arrow could pierce between:

and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of brass: which made one hundred and fifty six pounds and a quarter of zygostatic or avoirdupois weight; and therefore he must be a very strong man indeed to carry such a weight. So the armour of the ancient Romans were all of brass, as this man's; their helmets, shields, greaves, coats of mail, all of brass, as Livy says (i); and so in the age of the Grecian heroes (j).

(g) Vid. Lydium "de re militari": l. 3. c. 5. p. 63. (h) "----Rutilum thoraca indutus anis Horrebat squamis----" Virgil. Aeneid. l. 11. (i) Hist. l. 1. c. 22. (j) Pausan. Messenica, l. 3. p. 163. So Homer frequently describes the Grecians with a coat of mail of brass.

And he had an helmet of brass upon his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; and the weight of the coat was five thousand {b} shekels of brass.

(b) That is, 156 pounds 4 ounces, after half and ounce to the shekel: and 600 shekels weight amounts to 18 4-Marpounds.

5. a coat of mail] “A corselet of scales,” made of overlapping plates of metal, and protecting the body almost down to the knees. Armour of this kind is represented in the Assyrian sculptures. See Layard’s Nineveh II. 335. Cp. Virg. Aen. XI. 487, “Turnus … thoraca indutus aenis Horrebat squamis.”

five thousand shekels] Estimated at about 157 pounds avoirdupois.

1 Samuel 17:5And the (well-known) champion came out of the camps of the Philistines (הבּנים אישׁ, the middle-man, who decides a war between two armies by a single combat; Luther, "the giant," according to the ἀνὴρ δυνατὸς of the lxx, although in 1 Samuel 17:23 the Septuagint translators have rendered the word correctly ἀνὴρ ὁ ἀμεσσαῖος, which is probably only another form of ὁ μεσαῖος), named Goliath of Gath, one of the chief cities of the Philistines, where there were Anakim still left, according to Joshua 11:22. His height was six cubits and a span (6 1/4 cubits), i.e., according to the calculation made by Thenius, about nine feet two inches Parisian measure, - a great height no doubt, though not altogether unparalleled, and hardly greater than that of the great uncle of Iren, who came to Berlin in the year 1857 (see Pentateuch, p. 869, note).

(Note: According to Pliny (h. n. vii. 16), the giant Pusio and the giantess Secundilla, who lived in the time of Augustus, were ten feet three inches (Roman) in height; and a Jew is mentioned by Josephus (Ant. xviii. 4, 5), who was seven cubits in height, i.e., ten Parisian feet, or if the cubits are Roman, nine and a half.)

The armour of Goliath corresponded to his gigantic stature: "a helmet of brass upon his head, and clothes in scale armour, the weight of which was five thousand shekels of brass." The meaning scales is sustained by the words קשׂקשׂת in Leviticus 11:9-10, and Deuteronomy 14:9-10, and קשׂקשׂות in Ezekiel 29:4. קשׂקשּׂים שׁריון, therefore, is not θώραξ ἁλυσιδωτός (lxx), a coat of mail made of rings worked together like chains, such as were used in the army of the Seleucidae (1 Macc. 6:35), but according to Aquila's φολιδωτόν (scaled), a coat made of plates of brass lying one upon another like scales, such as we find upon the old Assyrian sculptures, where the warriors fighting in chariots, and in attendance upon the king, wear coats of scale armour, descending either to the knees or ankles, and consisting of scales of iron or brass, which were probably fastened to a shirt of felt or coarse linen (see Layard, Nineveh and its Remains, vol. ii. p. 335). The account of the weight, 5000 shekels, i.e., according to Thenius, 148 Dresden pounds, is hardly founded upon the actual weighing of the coat of mail, but probably rested upon a general estimate, which may have been somewhat too high, although we must bear in mind that the coat of mail not only covered the chest and back, but, as in the case of the Assyrian warriors, the lower part of the body also, and therefore must have been very large and very heavy.

(Note: According to Thenius, the cuirass of Augustus the Strong, which has been preserved in the historical museum at Dresden, weighted fifty-five pounds; and from that he infers, that the weight given as that of Goliath's coat of mail is by no means too great. Ewald, on the other hand, seems to have no idea of the nature of the Hebrew eights, or of the bodily strength of a man, since he gives 5000 lbs. of brass as the weight of Goliath's coat of mail (Gesch. iii. p. 90), and merely observes that the pounds were of course much smaller than ours. But the shekel did not even weight so much as our full ounce. With such statements as these you may easily turn the historical character of the scriptural narrative into incredible myths; but they cannot lay any claim to the name of science.)

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