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directions in quest of plunder, they were forced to surround them with lofty walls. This mode of defence seems to have been adopted at a very remote period; for the spies whom Moses sent into Canaan to view the country, reported that the cities were great, and walled up to heaven. The height of these walls, which by a bold oriental figure, dictated by the pusillanimous fears of the spies, are said to reach up to heaven, must have appeared to the people of Israel, unaccustomed as they were to warfare of that kind, and totally unprovided with the means necessary for besieging fortified places, a very serious obstacle to the accomplishment of their wishes. But the magnitude of it may be illustrated with the greatest advantage, from the accounts which modern travellers have given us of the present inhabitants of those deserts, who are much in the same circumstances as the people of Israel were when they came out of Egypt, whose attacks are effectually repelled by the lofty walls of one or two Christian monasteries.
The great monastery of mount Sinai, Thevenot says, is well built of good free stone, with very high smooth walls ; on the east side there is a window, by which those that were within, drew up the pilgrims into the monastery with a basket, which they let down by a rope that runs by a pulley, to be seen above at the window, and the pilgrims went into it one by one, and hoisted
These walls are so high that they cannot be scaled, and without cannon that place cannot be taken.
The monastery of St Anthony in Egypt, says Maillet, is a vast enclosure, with good walls, raised so high, as to secure this place from the insults of the Arabs. There is no entrance into it but by a pulley, by means of which people are hoisted up on high, and so conveyed into the monastery. No warlike apparatus which the Arabian freebooters possess, are sufficient for the reduction of these fortified places. The Israelites, not better provided for besieging strong holds, hastily concluded that the walled cities of Canaan, of which they heard such dis
couraging accounts, must oppose an unsurmountable barrier to their
progress * It is not to be supposed, that the descendants of Canaan, like the timid monks of Sinai, walled up their gates on the approach of danger, and permitted none to enter the place, but by means of a pulley; but if their gates had not been well secured, the precaution of raising their walls so high had been in vain. One method of securing the gates of fortified places, among the ancients, was to cover them with thick plates of iron; a custom which is still used in the east, and seems to be of great antiquity. We learn from Pitts, that Algiers has five gates, and some of these have two, some three other gates within them, and some of them plated all over with thick iron. The place where the apostle was imprisoned, seems to have been secured in the same manner; for, says the inspired historian, “When they were past the first and second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth into the city, which opened to them of its own accordt.” Pococke, speaking of a bridge not far from Antioch, called the iron bridge, says, there are two towers belonging to it, the gates of which are covered with iron plates, which he supposes is the reason of the name it bears. Some of their gates are plated over with brass ; such are the enormous gates of the principal mosque at Damascus, formerly the church of John the Baptist. To gates like these, the Psalmist probably refers in these words : “He hath broken the gates of brass †;" and the prophet, in that remarkable passage,
where God promises to go before Cyrus his anointed, and “ break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron.”
But the locks and keys which secure these iron and brazen doors, by a singular custom, the very reverse of what prevails in the west, are of wood ll. The bolts of these wooden locks, which are also of wood, are made hollow within, which they unlock with wooden keys, about a span long, and about the thick
# Psa. cvii, 16.
* Harmer's Obs. vol. 1, p. 327.
Isa. xlv. 2.
of Acts xü. 10. || Russel's Hist.
nėss of a thumb. Into this key they drive a number of short nails, or strong wires, in such an order and distance, that they exactly fit others within the lock, and so turn them as they please. The locks and keys which shut the doors and gates in countries adjacent to Syria, are fabricated of the same materials, and in the same form. But those cities which were fortified with more than ordinary care, had sometimes bars of brass, or iron. In describing the superior and almost impregnable strength of Babylon, which Cyrus was chosen by the Almighty to subdue, the prophet particularly mentions the gates of brass and bars of iron. According to this view, the emphasis of the following passage is much greater perhaps than is commonly apprehended : “A brother offended, is harder to be won than a strong city ; and their contentions are like the bars of a castle,” that are extremely difficult to be removed, both on account of their size, and of the strong and durable mate. rials of which they are made.
In the capital of Egypt, also, all their locks and keys are of wood; they have none of iron, not even for their city gates, which may with ease be opened without a key. The keys or bits of timber, with little pieces of wire, lift up other pieces of wire that are in the lock, and enter into certain little holes, out of which the ends of the wires that are in the key have just expelled the corresponding wires; upon which the gate is opened. But to accomplish this, a key is not necessary : the Egyptian lock is so imperfectly made, that one may without difficulty open it with his finger, armed with a little soft paster
. The locks in Canaan, at one time, do not seem to have been made with greater art, if Solomon allude to the ease with which they were frequently opened without a key: “My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him *.”
But conscious that all these precautions were insufficient for their security, the orientals employed watchmen to patrol the
Song v, 4.
city during the night, to suppress any disorders in the streets, or to guard the walls against the attempts of a foreign enemy. To this custom Solomon refers in these words: “The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the wall took away my veil from me*." This custom may be traced to a very remote antiquity; so early as the departure of Israel from the land of Egypt, the morning watch is mentioned, certainly indicating the time when the watchmen were commonly relieved. In Persia, the watchmen were obliged to indemnify those who were robbed in the streets; which accounts for the vigilance and severity which they display in the discharge of their office, and illustrates the character of watchmen given to Ezekiel, who lived in that country, and the duties he was required to perform. If the wicked perished in his iniquities without warning, the prophet was to be accountable for his blood; but if he duly pointed out his danger, he delivered his own soult. These terms, therefore, were neither harsh nor severe ; they were the common appointments of watchmen in Persia 1. They were also charged to announce the progress of the night to the slumbering city: “ The burden of Dumah; he calls to me out of Seir, Watchman, what of the night? watchman, what of the night ? The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night 8." This is confirmed by an observation of Chardin, upon these words of Moses: “For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night;" that as the people of the east have no clocks, the several parts of the day and of the night, which are eight in all, are announced. In the Indies, the parts of the night are made known, as well by instruments of music, in great cities, as by the rounds of the watchmen, who, with cries and small drums, give them notice that a fourth part of the night is past. Now, as these cries awaked those who had slept all that quarter part of the night, it appeared to them but as a moment. There are sixty • Song
v. 7. of Ezek. xxxiii, 2. Calmet, vol. 3. § Isa. xxi, 11.
of these people in the Indies by day, and as many by night ; that is, fifteen for each division.
It is evident the ancient Jews knew, by means of some public notice, how the night watches passed away ; but, whether they simply announced the termination of the watch, or made use of trumpets, or other sonorous instruments, in making the proclamation, it may not be easy to determine ; and still less what kind of chronometers the watchmen used. The probability is, that the watches were announced with the sound of a trumpet; for the prophet Ezekiel makes it a part of the watchman's duty, at least in time of war, to blow the trumpet, and warn the people *.
The watchman, in a time of danger, seems to have taken his station in a tower, which was built over the gate of the city. We may form a tolerably distinct idea of the ancient towers in Palestine, from the description which the sacred historian gives us of one, in the entrance of Mahanaim : " And David sat between the two gates, and the watchman went up to the roof over the gate unto the wall, and lift up his eyes and looked, and beheld a man running alone. The watchman cried and told the king; and the king said, if he is alone, there is tidings in his mouth. And the watchman saw another man running; and the watchman called unto the porter, and said, Behold, another man running alone; and the king said, he also bringeth tidingst." When the tidings were announced, the historian observes, “the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept.” It is afterwards added, “Then the king arose and sat in the gate; and they told unto all the people saying, behold the king doth sit in the gate; and all the people came before the king, for Israel had fled every man to his tent."
From this description it appears, that the tower in the entrance of Mahanaim, had two pair of gates, at some distance
* Ezek. xxxiii. 3. Harmer's Obs. vol. 1. p. 333.