Staff in Hand?

Hi CAF Folks,

Do people really think that staffs help with walking? I haven’t really experienced any help from walking sticks. However, I’ve been told that those lightweight collapsing aluminum stick really help with hiking on uneven surfaces. I haven’t tested those things out, though.

I’m referring in particular to the Lord’s instruction to the Israelites to eat with staff in hand and their loins girt.

Something that occurred to me was that staffs might be a good, simple way to arm the people, so they would stand a better chance against the Egyptians in a fight. I don’t think this is explicitly mentioned anywhere, though, although I do recall that the Israelites fought at least one battle before they reached Canaan. Where they got the arms to fight that battle, I don’t know – does anyone?



A walking staff can be a bit of a weapon against animals in the field (although, of course, it’s not the best weapon going – still, at least it’s something!). Rather, it provides support to the person carrying it.

A staff, too, would be a pretty poor weapon against an Egyptian armed with sword or bow & arrow, and riding in a chariot. :wink:

“Loins girt” and “carrying a staff”, then, really would be a way of saying “prepared for a journey”, rather than “prepared for battle”…

(Edited to add: ) Just saw your question about Israelite battle gear. I’m guessing you’re asking about the battle against Amalek? Notice two things: first, as the Israelites leave Egypt, they leave “arrayed for battle” (Ex 13:18). Also, when God destroys the Egyptian army in the Red Sea, the Israelites find them on the shore (Ex 14:30). It would be counter-intuitive to suggest that they didn’t loot the bodies of the soldiers, including their weapons.

Hmm, well, if it ever happens that I get thrown back in time to join the Israelites in the Exodus, I will try to bring along some collapsible aluminum walking rods with me. I think those are preferable to staffs. :stuck_out_tongue: Although they might not be that good against animals. Good insight on animals; thank you!

Walking sticks are more helpful to people who are unsteady on their feet, or to those walking on uneven ground. They give you an extra bit of support, like having three legs instead of two.

Also, some people have uneven muscle strength, and this can be tiring on long walks. Women often tend to start bending over as they get tired, for example, because they often have strong leg muscles, but their core/back/ab muscles are not as strong. If you use a walking stick (or two cross-country hiking poles), it helps fight this tendency toward bad posture. (And they strengthen the arms, too.)

A quarterstaff is actually a surprisingly formidable weapon – if you are trained and reasonably good at it. It’s cheap. It gives you about twice as much range as your own arms, it’s good for both strikes and parries, and whirling a staff puts a lot of momentum behind it. Most robbers would not be anxious for a cracked skull.

(A staff can parry arrows, but you have to be good and there can’t be many archers.)

So yes, for normal travel on relatively safe roads, a staff was good personal protection. For dangerous roads, like the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, you’d want a sword and a bunch of people to travel with.

A walking stick really saves my knees when I hike in the mountains. With it, my arms bear some of the weight when I step either up or down. It is also useful for balance when crossing streams on stepping stones. I have a lightweight wooden one.

I have understood that Scripture passage as meaning that the Israelites were not to settle down, unpack, etc., but be ready to travel without delay.

To me, a walking stick/staff is just another thing to have to carry. I’ve asked people who own the new-fangled collapsible kind and they agree that it can be just another thing to carry, but add that in rocky, uneven, steep ground the walking staffs can be very useful.

Have you ever seen what a trained martial artist can do with a staff?

Most oriental cultures have a history of a staff from 4 ft to over 6 ft in length and it was often used for carrying loads, but also as a ready and effective weapon of self defense.

Short staves or walking sticks also have proven very effective for both walking support and defense.

The Irish have their Blackthorns. (I have one of these.) The Japanese have both the jo and hanbo.

In most cases I have found them handy for both walking and defense and apparently so did King David as recorded in the Psalms. :slight_smile:

Well, just to be the nay-sayer: I doubt the Israelites had that much time for learning to fight with their staffs, right?

Anyway, if they did have developed staff fighting techniques, maybe some evidence would exist showing that they had that.

Like a shillelagh.

We have a couple replica Polish ciupagas/walking stick/shepherds axes at home.

Krav maga, baby!

haha. actually I would like to learn krav maga…except…I don’t think I’m really that into fighting…confused person here…

anyway…krav maga was a 20th century thing, right? right?! :smiley:

Sounds like a weapon really.

I have one of the collapsing sticks that I have been using for a few weeks. Now that I am older it really helps going through rough timber while mushroom hunting and hiking, etc. When I was younger it would just have been something extra to carry.

We know Israel’s shepherds used their staff and rod to defend their sheep against animals, as well as to train and guide the sheep.

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