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Did David use a staff sling? (Read 14620 times)
sv
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Re: Did David use a staff sling?
Reply #15 - May 17th, 2007 at 4:30am
 
hi tricocloud

you could be right, but it's a bit late in the day to be sure, the Bible is probably as vague/wrong about the type of sling as it is about various other things.
the thing is, in remote parts of the world shepherds still use slings as they have done for 1000s of years and as far as i know, these are all variations on the usual sling - not staff slings.
since david was a shepherd before he discovered his military and political genius, it's safe to assume that he was an adept with the sling which is still favored by today's shepherds, for it's lightness (less hassle to carry) and ability to work with small stones at low power. staff slings were, according to records, military weapons of some size with a typical large projectile - it's one thing to dissuade a sheep from straying, another to crush it's skull like an eggshell
you might be right, but on balance it's more likely that since D was a shepherd he used a shepherd's sling (like shepherds still use) and not a staff sling (which they don't)

welcome to the forum  Smiley

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Re: Did David use a staff sling?
Reply #16 - May 17th, 2007 at 4:04pm
 
I was searching through some old posts, and I came across another reference to a short staff sling: Dork described the general design in
one hand staff sling
.
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Re: Did David use a staff sling?
Reply #17 - May 17th, 2007 at 7:12pm
 
interesting... D's weapon could have been a combined staff and staff-sling i suppose

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Re: Did David use a staff sling?
Reply #18 - May 18th, 2007 at 8:37am
 
SV,

Here's another piece of the puzzle that I woke up thinking about this morning. (You'd think I didn't have a life; but I swear, I do!)

In 1 Samuel 13:16ff it says:

"Now there was no smith to be found throughout all the land of Israel; for the Philistines said, 'Lest the Hebrews make themselves swords or spears'; but every one of the Israelites went down to the Philistines to sharpen his plowshare, his mattock, his axe, or his sickle; and the charge was a pim for the plowshares and for the mattocks, and a third of a shekel for sharpening the axes and for setting the goads. So on the day of the battle there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people with Saul and Jonathan; but Saul and Jonathan his son had them. And the garrison of the Philistines went out to the pass of Michmash."

Now this was prior to Saul's successful campaign to free Israel from Philistine domination, therefore prior to the account we're speculating about, and I can't make any solid claims on the basis of this observation. But it points to an interesting difference in tactics/weaponry between Israel and Philistine, one that probably still had lingering effects into the time of the Goliath incident.
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Re: Did David use a staff sling?
Reply #19 - May 18th, 2007 at 8:50am
 
I have also wondered why only a staff gets mentioned and not the actual sling. Prior to reading SV's proposal that David had concealed it I had assumed that the sling was not regarded as a viable weapon by military men of the time. When David is convincing Saul to let him battle Goliath the sling is not mentioned at all. However I think it unlikely the staff was actually a staff sling. As previously mentioned staff slings were somewhat unwieldy, used in siege situations and David is recorded as running towards Goliath so unlikely to be effectively able to use such a tricky weapon. There is no doubt he would have the power to kill Goliath with an ordinary sling; just look at TechStuf "killing" his plywood Goliath.

As for what he did with his staff, I think the simple anwer is that he merely dropped it. Once Goliath was in range, he simply committed himself to his sling and jettisoned unnecessary equipment. Soldiers routinely do that kind of thing.
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Re: Did David use a staff sling?
Reply #20 - May 18th, 2007 at 12:29pm
 
You won't get accuracy with a staff-sling, right?
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Re: Did David use a staff sling?
Reply #21 - May 18th, 2007 at 3:32pm
 
not unless you hit them on the head with the staff part :-)

It's an interesting diversion - but pretty much a dead certainty that no staff sling was involved.
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Re: Did David use a staff sling?
Reply #22 - May 18th, 2007 at 10:04pm
 
tricocloud wrote on May 16th, 2007 at 10:39am:
...
    And the Philistine said to David, "Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?" (1 Samuel 17:43)

"Sticks"? A shepherd's staff?
...

Sticks ...  biblical rod and staff .... short stick ,  long stick and slings   ...

this shepherd was loaded for lions and tigers and bears. (Oh MY  Cool .... and the occasional giant)
I'm certain the city boy Goliath did not recognize the relevance of the sling as a weapon
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Re: Did David use a staff sling?
Reply #23 - May 19th, 2007 at 9:18am
 
Yes, the rod and staff solve the "sticks" problem nicely, and the proposal that D simply dropped the staff seems like a good suggestion as to what he did with it/them while slinging. (If a staff sling is unwieldy, then carrying a staff while slinging strikes me as even more so.)

That David's slinging made an impression on Goliath is probably the only dead certainty here. But I'm finding the hypothesis of a staff sling harder to sustain, no question.
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Re: Did David use a staff sling?
Reply #24 - May 19th, 2007 at 9:29am
 
But as to the accuracy question, I hold with those above who indicate its potential. And that was what was fun about getting my son to help me with the project of a modified LAX stick as staff sling.

A LAX long pole in the hands of a good player is nearly as accurate as a short stick--certainly within the tolerances necessary for the purpose. (Anybody been watching Duke climb in the Division I championship? My son successfully played against one of their attackmen in high school.) In our experiment last week we spent all our time trying to get the mechanics right. But we were both convinced that the potential was there for power and accuracy.
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Re: Did David use a staff sling?
Reply #25 - May 19th, 2007 at 9:44pm
 
I'm in the Non staff sling camp on this one. My weak arguements are follows. First recording we have of the staff-sling is in Xenophons March of the ten thousand. ( as relayed to me by some of my greco-roman reenactor buddies)

The second dates from when I was file mining JSTOR.  There was an article dating from early 20th century about David and Goliath. the article was about the story Of David being extremely similar to other heroic stories of the smae time period.  I glaced through the article and went on looking for other articles that were more about the slinging than interperting the story based on whatever biblical translation.

As in it wasn't what i was looking for i didn't pay a whole lot of attention to it and honestly way to much time has passed. but basically everything had a symbolic role in the story including the staff.

Now if you are really serious about figuring this out, you need to learn ancient Greek and Aramaic. and find out the exact word of what was recorded in the story. too many translations have passed to trust any  modern renditions. I found this out on my Balearic paper when i found out depending on the translation each version of the same story varied in small details. It is these details that may make or break a story.

In short we are talking about an agricultural pastoral society in a military pickle ( so to speak). the evidence is on the side of a David using a standard hand sling.  The same hand sling used by other pastoral cultures from the same kind of society.

Staff slings are a strictly military weapon, as far as we have been find out. and even assuming that they were around during this time period if david wass going to use a military weapon against Goliath there were plenty other out there that would have been more effective than the sling. Now the story would have remained the same even if he had used a sword , or a spear against Goliath.

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Re: Did David use a staff sling?
Reply #26 - May 19th, 2007 at 10:48pm
 

Your logic is impeccable.  The only kind of staff sling that would have been effective against Goliath is a one handed version.  It is likely that the beneficial dynamics of a weighted one handed staff sling went undiscovered until relatively modern times.  The traditional 'shepherd's sling' stands on it's own as a powerful and accurate implement and surely would have done the job. 


And as you have ably stated, it seems unlikely that a shepherd boy would have had necessity or occasion to use a staff sling, as he already enjoyed great success with his own.


TS
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Re: Did David use a staff sling?
Reply #27 - May 20th, 2007 at 12:23am
 
Winkleried, you may indeed be right about the nature of the sling. But since this forum has academic aspirations, here's some more information:

1) The language in question would be Hebrew, and the word in question for "sling" is qela. In fact I have studied it, though it's been a while. The Septuagint (Greek) is a much later translation. Aramaic was what Jesus spoke; Aramaic script was current at the time in question, but not what this text is written in.

2) The biblical accounts associate the sling with both military and pastoral use.

3) So also for the word used for staff, including just a couple of chapters earlier. It's a very generic term.

4) Your point about recorded military use of the staff sling strikes me as the most important point. Point taken, even though, strictly speaking, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. And there is no question that whatever David used, the account strongly implies that it was the same weaponry that he was familiar with as a shepherd.

5) In a subsequent account, we read that David's men could sling with both right and left hands. (1 Chronicles 12:2) I know lots of baseball players that can bat either way. All lacrosse players do. Do you know of slingers that can go either way with any effectiveness? That's not a rhetorical question; maybe they do, for all I know.

6) Whatever D used, it's hard to see what other weapon could have been more effective; he knew what he was doing in going with it!
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Re: Did David use a staff sling?
Reply #28 - Aug 12th, 2007 at 9:29am
 
Did SOMEONE IN HISTORY, who DID SOMETHING WHICH I CAN'T REPEAT, and who was considered EXCEPTIONAL for their feat, possibly DO SOMETHING EXCEPTIONAL?? Or, did they USE SOME COMPLETELY DIFFERENT WEAPON THAN WHAT IS DESCRIBED IN HISTORICAL RECORDS, because surely they MUST have, right? I can't do, it so they MUST have!!

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Re: Did David use a staff sling?
Reply #29 - Aug 12th, 2007 at 9:55am
 
Quote:
since goliath would be well aware of the deadliness of the sling, i think david carried a staff as camouflage, and hid the sling until goliath was within range. goliath mentions the staff in the account in a mocking fashion....


but he doesn't mention a sling

mystery solved - and to suggest that Goliath didn't/wouldn't recognise a sling doesn't make sense, he was supposedly the best soldier available and therefore a weapons expert, as most keen soldiers are.  he would have instantly recognised a sling, staff or otherwise, and spotted the danger.
david was apparently armed with a staff - a quarterstaff was/is a respectable weapon in any case, so goliath wasn't too suspicious. but the sling which he kept hidden (not possible with a staff-sling) until he was within range was the decisive weapon. 

SV
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