(קֶשֶׁת, ke'sheth; τόξον), one of the most extensively employed and (among primitive nations) efficient implements of missile attack. SEE ARMOR. It is met with in the earliest stages of history, in use both for the chase (Ge 21:20; Ge 27:3) and war (Ge 48:22). In later times archers accompanied the armies of the Philistines (1Sa 31:3; 1Ch 10:3) and of the Syrians (1Ki 22:34). Among the Jews its use was not confined to the common soldiers, but captains high in rank, as Jehu (2Ki 9:24), and even kings' sons (1Sa 18:4), carried the bow, and were expert and sure in its use (2Sa 1:22).

The tribe of Benjamin seems to have been especially addicted to archery (1Ch 8:40; 1Ch 12:2; 2Ch 14:8; 2Ch 17:7), but there were also bowmen among Reuben, Gad, Manasseh (1Ch 5:18); and Ephraim (Ps 78:9). The bow seems to have been bent with the aid of the foot, as now, for the word commonly used for it is דָּרִך, to tread (1Ch 5:18; 1Ch 8:40; 2Ch 14:8; Isa 5:18; Ps 7:12, etc.). Bows of steel (or perhaps copper, נחוּשָׁה) are mentioned as if specially strong (2Sa 22:5; Ps 18:34). The string is occasionally named (יֶתֶר, ye'ther, or מֵיתָר, meythar'). It was probably at first some bind-weed or natural cord, since the same word is used in Jg 16:7-9, for "green withs." In the allusion to bows in 1Ch 12:2, it will be observed that the sentence in the original stands "could use both the right hand and the left in stones and arrows out of a bow," the words "hurling" and "shooting" being interpolated by the translators. It is possible that a kind of bow for shooting bullets or stones is here alluded to, like the pellet-bow of India, or the " stonebow" in use in the Middle Ages, and to which allusion is made by Shakspeare (Twelfth NiSht, ii, 5), and which in Wisd. v, 22, is employed as the translation of πετροβόλος. This latter word occurs in the Sept. text of 1Sa 14:14, in a curious variation of a passage which in the Hebrew is hardly intelligible-- ἐν βολίσι, καὶ ἐν πετροβόλοις, καὶ ἐν κόχλαξι τοῦ πεδίου "with things thrown, and with stone-bows, and with flints of the field." If this be accepted as the true reading, we have here, by comparison with 14:27, 43, an interesting confirmation of the statement (13:1922) of the degree to which the Philistines had deprived the people of arms, leaving to the king himself nothing but his faithful spear, and to his son no sword, no shield, and nothing but a stone-bow and a staff (Auth. Vers. "rod"). SEE BOWMAN.

Bible concordance for BOW.

The ARROWS (חַצַּים, chitstsf.') were carried in a quiver (תּלַי, teli', Ge 27:3; or אִשַׁפִּח, ashpach', Ps 22:6; Ps 49:2; Ps 127:5). From an allusion in Job 6:4, they would seem to have been sometimes poisoned; and the "sharp arrows of the mighty with coals of juniper," in Ps 120:4, may point to a practice of ulsing arrows with some burning material attached to them. SEE ARCHER.

The bow is frequently mentioned symbolically in Scripture. In Ps 7:12, it implies victory, signifying judgments laid up in store against offenders. It is sometimes used to denote lying and falsehood (Ps 64:4; Ps 120:4; Jer 9:11), probably from the many circumstances which tend to render a bow inoperative, especially in unskilful hands. Hence also " a deceitful bow" (Ps 78:57; Ho 7:16), with which compare Virgil's "Perfidus ensis frangitur" (AEn. 12:731). The bow also signifies any kind of arms. The bow and the spear are most frequently mentioned, because the ancients used these most (Ps 44:6; Ps 46:9; Zec 10:4; Jos 24:12). In Hab 3:9, "thy bow was made bare" means that it was drawn out of its case. The Orientals used to carry their bows in a case hung on their girdles. See Wemyss, Sym.Dic. s.v. 1 In 2 Samuel i, 18, the Auth. Vers. has, " Also he (David) bade them teach the children of Judah the use of the bow." "Here," says Professor Robinson (Addit. to Calmet), "the words 'the use of are not in the Hebrew, and convey a sense entirely false to the English reader. It should be 'teach them the bow,' i.e. the song of THE BOW, from the mention of this weapon in ver. 22. This mode of selecting an inscription to a poem or work is common in the East; so in the Koran the second Sura is entitled the cow, from the incidental mention in it of the red heifer; comp. Nu 19:2. In a similar manner, the names of the books of the Pentateuch in the Hebrew Bibles are merely the first word in each book." SEE POETRY, HEBREW.

Definition of bow


See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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