WHAT IS A “MAUL?”
by Shawn Brasseaux
The word “maul” is found a solitary time in our Authorized Version: “A man that beareth false witness against his neighbour is a maul, and a sword, and a sharp arrow” (Proverbs 25:18). From the context, we deduce “maul” has to be a sort of weapon—and we would be correct in that inference. In fact, it is a hammer or mallet, or a heavy club. Our English word is derived from the Latin “malleus” (“hammer”). We are more familiar with the verb form of “maul,” however, conveying the sense of “to bruise or injure with a rough beating.” In the case of the Proverbs passage, the idea is metaphorical, but still communicates a literal truth. A gossip—someone who spreads misleading information about another person—crushes like a maul/club, cuts like a sword, and pierces like an arrow. The overall concept is character assassination, great internal or emotional trauma inflicted on the unfortunate soul. A maul shatters, a sword chops, and an arrow punctures—all graphic illustrations of the consequences of lies told about another person.