My article on “Sword,” published in the Holman Bible Dictionary, is available online. Below is an excerpt from the article.
Close-range weapon. The Hebrew word chereb and the Greek word machaira designate either a dagger or a sword. The Hebrew word also designates an iron tool (“axes,” Ezekiel 26:9) or a chisel (“tool,” Exodus 20:25). In Joshua 5:2, the word designates stone knives used in the circumcision of the people of Israel.
Archaeology has shown that different kinds of swords were used in the Ancient Near East. The sickle or curved sword was used throughout Mesopotamia, Egypt, and in Palestine. The earlier swords were straight, relatively short, and made of bronze. Ehud’s sword was the two-edged short dagger; it measured about 18 inches (Judges 3:16). The sword used by the Israelites in the conquest of Canaan probably was the long-bladed, curved sword (Joshua 6:21).
The Sea Peoples introduced to Canaan the two-edged long sword made of iron. This type of iron sword was kept out of the hands of the Israelites by the Philistines for military and economic reasons until the times of David (1 Samuel 13:19). The Old Testament gives witness that in the wars between the Israelites and the Philistines, the Israelites did not possess this new weapon (1 Samuel 13:22). The sword was kept in a sheath (1 Samuel 17:51; Matthew 26:52). It hung from a belt (1 Samuel 25:13) and was generally put on the left hip (2 Samuel 20:8).
Read the article in its entirety by visiting Study Light online here.
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary