In the Footsteps of David

David the shepherd boy killed Goliath the giant by slinging a stone at him. This was one of my favorite Bible stories, and when I was a boy, I tried to learn how to use a sling (just what the neighborhood needed!). I could never make it work; although Bobby Baker, two houses away, could sometimes sling a stone… if he got everything just right.

The sling was a common and powerful weapon throughout the ancient world. The major armies usually had companies of slingers. The best ones came from the Balearic Islands. The Romans provided their slingers with uniform ammunition; but David just picked what he needed out of a creek.

The video tells us it takes tons and tons of practice to become proficient with the sling. I wonder what those guys from the Balearics were paid. There’s no doubt in my mind that David was able, with his sling and a stone, to kill the Philistines’ champion. This kind of face-to-face duel has echoes in Homer, Achilles vs. Hector, etc., and was doubtless an authentic feature of Bronze Age warfare.

I’m not suggesting we should all go out and see if we can become slingers. This blog post is for historical purposes only and should not be taken as an encouragement to mischief.

4 comments on “In the Footsteps of David

  1. During one of the “Palestinian” intifadas against Israelis, the “rock-throwing youths” were portrayed in the press as mere children throwing little pebbles against armed troops. Occasionally there were pictures of these “youths” and their stones – huge rocks in hunting slings, which were meant to bring down wild animals and could easily kill anyone who was struck in the chest or head. I tried to point this out to some people who were taken in by the slanted anti-Israeli narrative, even reminding people that David had brought down Goliath with one of these slings – but as usual, no one paid attention. Sometimes I think I have the Cassandra curse.

    1. CNN was a huge offender. My aunts watched it regularly and were convinced that Israel was the bad guy and the Palestinians innocent victims and pitiable underdogs. I’m glad to say they changed their minds once they had better information–and heard some of the news that CNN had omitted from its coverage.

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