How to you picture a moat? My vision is a wide, deep ditch around a castle or fort filled to the brim with icy, cold water…likely filled with nasty things. The bridge was a drawbridge that could be raised at night and even when it was down I pictured how easily one could be pushed over the side into the water to drown. That picture can only have come from stories from my childhood.
On a recent trip to Israel I discovered how far from the truth that is…at least in that country. First of all the water wouldn’t be icy in that climate. And it’s a precious commodity in a country with a good deal of arid land.
The accompanying picture is part of a moat around Herod the Great’s palace in Caesarea. The “bridge” was made from stone. If one were to enter by it you couldn’t hide from any guards above the gate and the entry was made in a L shape to slow down anyone entering. Our guide pointed out a number of features of protection regarding the moat. Likely the vegetation would have been kept well back from the outside edge of the moat so guards walking the walls could easily see someone approaching. But, even if invaders made it to the moat they had a sheer drop to the bottom of the moat and a walk across it, both in clear view of any guards. Then there was the matter of climbing smooth, sloping walls. Had the walls been vertical those climbing would be out of sight of any patrols for a good part of their climb. Not so with the slope. The small door was used by soldiers to get into the moat when needed without themselves having the difficult climbs or putting themselves at risk. These entries were well protected on the inside.
This and many other things I saw and experienced while in Israel are now giving me a fresh view of many things mentioned in scripture. For a photo story about the trip you can visit http://www.lutheranwomen.ca/publications-and-forms/tapestry or simply click here to go directly to the story.
Marion Hollinger, editor-in-chief, Tapestry