A Damascus sword is one of the finest examples of steel craftsmanship. Made from wootz steel, such work refers to swords made or sold in Damascus directly, or possibly may be a reference to the fabulous patterns created on the sword’s blade. The patterns on the sword look like Damask Silk.
The patterned ribboning of the Damascus blades was produced by drawing out the steel into thin ribbons which were piled and welded by hammers. It involved both intense application of heat, and extensive beating. If you think of flaky pastry, which is rolled out, then folded over, rolled out again and repeated, until there are many layers of pastry, you have a picture of this steel. There are two different types of metal fused together in a Damascus blade, one which produces strength, and the other flexibility. Heated in a furnace, the forged combination is then beaten repeatedly into a thin ribbon, folded over, re-heated, folded over, re-heated, and so on. The end result is a fabulous blade, with a highly distinctive patterning. When used in combat, it had the incredible advantage of great strength, combined with astonishing flexibility. Such swords were very rarely snapped off in the heat of battle, and proved consistently accurate in their ability to pierce their target.
Whenever I think of weapons, I am reminded of the verse in Isaiah 54:17 – “No weapon formed against you shall prosper”. It is always an encouragement to consider that God will ensure our protection against weapons from any sources. It is also worth nothing the context of this verse, though, for in the preceding verse God states:
“See, it is I who created the blacksmith
who fans the coals into flame
and forges a weapon fit for its work.”
God intends us to be a weapon in spiritual warfare, and will create a “weapon fit for its work”. But the reality of that it that such weapons are often formed in a spiritual forge, in the heat of preparation and repeated process of stretching and development. It is never easy, and is often painful. However, only God knows the reason behind such formation, and the end result of the patterns he wishes to produce in us.