Wednesday, May 11, 2022
Bible & Archaeology (University of Iowa)

The Hebrew noun חנית (ḥaniyṯ) is the word for "spear." Several of the most notable appearances of חנית (ḥaniyṯ) occur in the stories of Saul and David. One of Goliath's weapons is a massive spear described in 1 Samuel 17:7: "The shaft of his spear (חנית) was like a weaver’s beam, and his spear’s (חנית) head weighed six hundred shekels of iron; and his shield-bearer went before him." King Saul tries to kill David with a spear several times; 1 Samuel 19:10 is one such instance where: "an evil spirit from the LORD came upon Saul, as he sat in his house with his spearחניתו) in his hand, while David was playing music. Saul sought to pin David to the wall with the spear (בחנית); but he eluded Saul, so that he struck the spearחנית) into the wall." David even takes Saul's spear in 1 Samuel 26:11 to show that he could have killed Saul but refrained: "The LORD forbid that I should raise my hand against the LORD’S anointed; but now take the spearחנית) that is at his head, and the water jar, and let us go."

A use of חנית (ḥaniyṯ) not related to war can be seen in the eschatological vision relayed in Isaiah 2:4 that famously describes an end of wars: "He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears (והחניתותיהם) into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."