And the staff of his spear was like a weaver’s beam; and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron: and one bearing a shield went before him. 1 Samuel 17:7
And there was again a battle in Gob with the Philistines, where Elhanan the son of Jaareoregim, a Bethlehemite, slew the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the staff of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam. 2 Samuel 21:19
And he slew an Egyptian, a man of great stature, five cubits high; and in the Egyptian’s hand was a spear like a weaver’s beam; and he went down to him with a staff, and plucked the spear out of the Egyptian’s hand, and slew him with his own spear. 1 Chronicles 11:23
(Who were those who slew these men? These also are the chief of the mighty men whom David had, who strengthened themselves with him in his kingdom, and with all Israel, to make him king, according to the word of the LORD concerning Israel. 1 Chronicles 11:10 …David’s mighty men.)
As a weaver, myself, these verses struck my curiosity chord. A weaver’s beam… In technical weaving terms, it is a strong beam, one usually at the top and another at the bottom, bracing the loom. As pictured in this Navajo loom below, the beams are where the warp is looped so that a weaver can weave over and under those warps with the weft or woof (either name is correct). There are many types of looms but they do all have some type of supporting beams.
Three main loom designs were used in the biblical world. On a horizontal ground loom, the warp threads were stretched between beams pegged to the ground. This type is apparently referred to in the Samson story (Judges 16:13-14), as it would have enabled Delilah to weave his locks while he slept. When Samson jumped up, he pulled away the pin(s) of the loom (Judges 16:14) which secured the beams to the ground.
In some vertical looms, the warp was stretched between two beams fixed in a rectangular frame. Work proceeded from the bottom of the loom, and the woven cloth could be rolled onto the bottom beam (Isaiah 38:12). This permitted the weaver to remain seated and to produce much longer finished products.
Another type of vertical loom had the warp threads attached to an upper beam and held taut in groups by a series of stone or clay weights. Weaving was done from the top to the bottom, and the weft beaten upwards. Large numbers of excavated loom weights testify to the popularity of warp weighted looms in Old Testament Israel.
In all of these looms, there is a rather large beam. Each verse above speaks of the warrior’s spear being“like a weaver’s beam.”
In the Philistine army, there was one particularly impressive soldier, named Goliath. He was a large man (“six cubits and a span” can be anywhere from 8’5″ to 9’2″. ** see comment Douglas Petrovich), and he had armor and weapons to match his size.
And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. And he had bronze armor on his legs, and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron. And his shield-bearer went before him. He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” 1 Samuel 17:4-9
We know the outcome of this most familiar story as David tries to tell Saul of his abilities:
Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.” And David said, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you!” 1 Samuel 17:36-37
So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David. 1 Samuel 17:50
Power in the things of this world and physical strength of man is not of God. God uses His servants when they are willing, faithful, and surrendered to Him. We are His weaver’s beam when we allow Him to use us in all we are, do, and say. Our strength is in the LORD. We weave our lives day-to-day. Regrets, wrong turns, blessings, and right turns all roll into the woven fabric of our lives. Instead of taking up that beam to beat down the devil as he confronts us or to beat down ourselves for poor choices or when we walked away from God, we must get down on our knees, asking God to protect us with His strength, His power, His might, and His lovingkindness. We must pick up His sword, the Word of God, using it as Jesus did in the wilderness when tempted by the devil.
Father, God, You have called me to honor You in all I am, in all I say, and in all I do. I want to honor and respect You as I should. Father, protect me from the evil one, holding me in the cleft of Your rock. When the Goliaths of this world come near me, I pray that I trust in You as David did. Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give you into our hand.” 1 Samuel 17:45-47 May I know in my heart and mind that the battle is Your’s and that You will give the enemy into my hand. I do not need a weaver’s beam for battle, only to use it to weave a beautiful cloth for You. May my heart be filled with wisdom as I do this work for You. Oh, Father, I love You. I pray in Your Son’s Name. Amen.
Them hath he filled with wisdom of heart, to work all manner of work, of the engraver, and of the cunning workman, and of the embroiderer, in blue, and in purple, in scarlet, and in fine linen, and of the weaver, even of them that do any work, and of those that devise cunning work. Exodus 35:35
7 thoughts on “Like A Weaver’s Beam”
** Regarding the height of Goliath, actually there are two options in the biblical text, as there is what we call a “textual variant” here, meaning that the ancient biblical sources read differently. The Hebrew Masoretic text (MT) reads 9′ 9″ (6 cubits), while the LXX (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible) and one of the Dead Sea Scrolls read 6′ 9″ (4 cubits). For reasons that I will not go into here, the double tradition of the LXX and the DSS is to be preferred over the reading in the MT. Almost undoubtedly, Goliath was only 6′ 9″ tall, meaning that he certainly was no “giant” (the mistranslated reading in the KJV/NKJV for both Genesis 6:4 and Numbers 13:33). So if the weaver’s beam was 6 1/2′ or 7′ high, it would work perfectly with the correct biblical description of Goliath’s height.
Hoping this helps,
Dr. Douglas Petrovich
Prof. of Biblical History and Exegesis
The Bible Seminary
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Thank you, Sir, for sharing this with us. I appreciate you very much. I looked you up at the Seminary to know about sharing this or not. I thank you for taking the time.
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Very interesting! I never noticed those phrases before. Now I know what they mean. Thank you!
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Thanks for your helpful comments.
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My son wondered about the “like a weaver’s beam” mentioned in 1 Chronicles 11:23. In looking for more details about that, I found your post. Thank you for including the photos and sharing a bit more about weaving. As you concluded, “we are His weaver’s beam” when we choose to submit and be used by God for His ultimate glory.
How fine, Sejana, that after all this time, God uses words He and I have written for His glory. Thank you for sharing about your son’s questions and you finding Being Woven.