to hamstring, i.e., sever the "tendon of Achilles" of the hinder
legs of captured horses (Josh. 11:6; 2 Sam. 8:4; 1 Chr. 18:4),
so as to render them useless.
(Heb. hargol, meaning "leaper"). Mention of it is made only in
Lev. 11:22, where it is obvious the word cannot mean properly
the beetle. It denotes some winged creeper with at least four
feet, "which has legs above its feet, to leap withal." The
description plainly points to the locust (q.v.). This has been
an article of food from the earliest times in the East to the
present day. The word is rendered "cricket" in the Revised
a common mode of punishment among heathen nations in early
times. It is not certain whether it was known among the ancient
Jews; probably it was not. The modes of capital punishment
according to the Mosaic law were, by the sword (Ex. 21),
strangling, fire (Lev. 20), and stoning (Deut. 21).
This was regarded as the most horrible form of death, and to a
Jew it would acquire greater horror from the curse in Deut.
This punishment began by subjecting the sufferer to scourging.
In the case of our Lord, however, his scourging was rather
before the sentence was passed upon him, and was inflicted by
Pilate for the purpose, probably, of exciting pity and procuring
his escape from further punishment (Luke 23:22; John 19:1).
The condemned one carried his own cross to the place of
execution, which was outside the city, in some conspicuous place
set apart for the purpose. Before the nailing to the cross took
place, a medicated cup of vinegar mixed with gall and myrrh (the
sopor) was given, for the purpose of deadening the pangs of the
sufferer. Our Lord refused this cup, that his senses might be
clear (Matt. 27:34). The spongeful of vinegar, sour wine, posca,
the common drink of the Roman soldiers, which was put on a
hyssop stalk and offered to our Lord in contemptuous pity (Matt.
27:48; Luke 23:36), he tasted to allay the agonies of his thirst
(John 19:29). The accounts given of the crucifixion of our Lord
are in entire agreement with the customs and practices of the
Roman in such cases. He was crucified between two "malefactors"
(Isa. 53:12; Luke 23:32), and was watched by a party of four
soldiers (John 19:23; Matt. 27:36, 54), with their centurion.
The "breaking of the legs" of the malefactors was intended to
hasten death, and put them out of misery (John 19:31); but the
unusual rapidity of our Lord's death (19:33) was due to his
previous sufferings and his great mental anguish. The omission
of the breaking of his legs was the fulfilment of a type (Ex.
12:46). He literally died of a broken heart, a ruptured heart,
and hence the flowing of blood and water from the wound made by
the soldier's spear (John 19:34). Our Lord uttered seven
memorable words from the cross, namely, (1) Luke 23:34; (2)
23:43; (3) John 19:26; (4) Matt. 27:46, Mark 15:34; (5) John
19:28; (6) 19:30; (7) Luke 23:46.
is employed in the English Bible to denote military equipment,
both offensive and defensive.
(1.) The offensive weapons were different at different periods
of history. The "rod of iron" (Ps. 2:9) is supposed to mean a
mace or crowbar, an instrument of great power when used by a
strong arm. The "maul" (Prov. 25:18; cognate Hebrew word
rendered "battle-axe" in Jer. 51:20, and "slaughter weapon" in
Ezek. 9:2) was a war-hammer or martel. The "sword" is the usual
translation of _hereb_, which properly means "poniard." The real
sword, as well as the dirk-sword (which was always
double-edged), was also used (1 Sam. 17:39; 2 Sam. 20:8; 1 Kings
20:11). The spear was another offensive weapon (Josh. 8:18; 1
Sam. 17:7). The javelin was used by light troops (Num. 25:7, 8;
1 Sam. 13:22). Saul threw a javelin at David (1 Sam. 19:9, 10),
and so virtually absolved him from his allegiance. The bow was,
however, the chief weapon of offence. The arrows were carried in
a quiver, the bow being always unbent till the moment of action
(Gen. 27:3; 48:22; Ps. 18:34). The sling was a favourite weapon
of the Benjamites (1 Sam. 17:40; 1 Chr. 12:2. Comp. 1 Sam.
(2.) Of the defensive armour a chief place is assigned to the
shield or buckler. There were the great shield or target (the
_tzinnah_), for the protection of the whole person (Gen. 15:1;
Ps. 47:9; 1 Sam. 17:7; Prov. 30:5), and the buckler (Heb.
_mageen_) or small shield (1 Kings 10:17; Ezek. 26:8). In Ps.
91:4 "buckler" is properly a roundel appropriated to archers or
slingers. The helmet (Ezek. 27:10; 1 Sam. 17:38), a covering for
the head; the coat of mail or corselet (1 Sam. 17:5), or
habergeon (Neh. 4;16), harness or breat-plate (Rev. 9:9), for
the covering of the back and breast and both upper arms (Isa.
59:17; Eph. 6:14). The cuirass and corselet, composed of leather
or quilted cloth, were also for the covering of the body.
Greaves, for the covering of the legs, were worn in the time of
David (1 Sam. 17:6). Reference is made by Paul (Eph. 6:14-17) to
the panoply of a Roman soldier. The shield here is the thureon,
a door-like oblong shield above all, i.e., covering the whole
person, not the small round shield. There is no armour for the
back, but only for the front.
There are ten Hebrew words used in Scripture to signify locust.
In the New Testament locusts are mentioned as forming part of
the food of John the Baptist (Matt. 3:4; Mark 1:6). By the
Mosaic law they were reckoned "clean," so that he could lawfully
eat them. The name also occurs in Rev. 9:3, 7, in allusion to
this Oriental devastating insect.
Locusts belong to the class of Orthoptera, i.e.,
straight-winged. They are of many species. The ordinary Syrian
locust resembles the grasshopper, but is larger and more
destructive. "The legs and thighs of these insects are so
powerful that they can leap to a height of two hundred times the
length of their bodies. When so raised they spread their wings
and fly so close together as to appear like one compact moving
mass." Locusts are prepared as food in various ways. Sometimes
they are pounded, and then mixed with flour and water, and baked
into cakes; "sometimes boiled, roasted, or stewed in butter, and
then eaten." They were eaten in a preserved state by the ancient
The devastations they make in Eastern lands are often very
appalling. The invasions of locusts are the heaviest calamites
that can befall a country. "Their numbers exceed computation:
the hebrews called them 'the countless,' and the Arabs knew them
as 'the darkeners of the sun.' Unable to guide their own flight,
though capable of crossing large spaces, they are at the mercy
of the wind, which bears them as blind instruments of Providence
to the doomed region given over to them for the time.
Innumerable as the drops of water or the sands of the seashore,
their flight obscures the sun and casts a thick shadow on the
earth (Ex. 10:15; Judg. 6:5; 7:12; Jer. 46:23; Joel 2:10). It
seems indeed as if a great aerial mountain, many miles in
breadth, were advancing with a slow, unresting progress. Woe to
the countries beneath them if the wind fall and let them alight!
They descend unnumbered as flakes of snow and hide the ground.
It may be 'like the garden of Eden before them, but behind them
is a desolate wilderness. At their approach the people are in
anguish; all faces lose their colour' (Joel 2:6). No walls can
stop them; no ditches arrest them; fires kindled in their path
are forthwith extinguished by the myriads of their dead, and the
countless armies march on (Joel 2:8, 9). If a door or a window
be open, they enter and destroy everything of wood in the house.
Every terrace, court, and inner chamber is filled with them in a
moment. Such an awful visitation swept over Egypt (Ex. 10:1-19),
consuming before it every green thing, and stripping the trees,
till the land was bared of all signs of vegetation. A strong
north-west wind from the Mediterranean swept the locusts into
the Red Sea.", Geikie's Hours, etc., ii., 149.