The prophet Isaiah pronounced woe upon persons ‘drawing sin as with wagon cords,’ possibly indicating that such individuals were attached to sin just as animals were tied with cords to wagons they pulled.—Isa. 5:18.
As long as man has been constructing houses and cities he has been building walls out of many materials, in a variety of designs, to serve a number of purposes. The size and strength of structures largely depend on the construction and materials used in their walls.
The walls of David’s palace were of cut stone. (2 Sam. 5:11) Similarly, the outside walls of Solomon’s temple, it appears, were of quarried stone, with some of their interior surfaces covered over with cedar boards. (1 Ki. 6:2, 7, 15) These interior wooden panels, in turn, were elaborately decorated with carvings and overlays of gold. (1 Ki. 6:29; 1 Chron. 29:4; 2 Chron. 3:4, 7) The interior wall surfaces of Belshazzar’s palace were plastered. (Dan. 5:5) The walls of the homes of the people in general were ordinarily of simple construction—sun-dried bricks, uncut stones or plastered material over a wooden framework. Sometimes the surface was whitewashed.—Acts 23:3.
In ancient times fear caused people to erect protective walls around large cities to prevent enemy invasions. (1 Ki. 4:13; Isa. 25:12) The inhabitants of the small “dependent towns” round about (Num. 21:25) likewise took refuge within the walled city if attacked. The Mosaic law made a legal distinction between walled and unwalled towns, as to the rights of house owners. (Lev. 25:29-31) The walls not only provided a physical barrier between city residences and an enemy but also afforded an elevated position atop which the defenders could protect the walls from being undermined, tunneled through or breached by battering rams. (2 Sam. 11:20-24; 20:15; Ps. 55:10; Song of Sol. 5:7; Isa. 62:6; Ezek. 4:1, 2; 26:9) As a countermeasure, attacking forces sometimes threw up siege walls as shields behind which to assault the city walls.—2 Ki. 25:1; Jer. 52:4; Ezek. 4:2, 3; 21:22; see FORTIFICATIONS.
Stone walls were often built to hedge in vineyards or fields, and to form corrals or sheep pens. (Num. 22:23-25; Prov. 24:30, 31; Isa. 5:5; Mic. 2:12; Hab. 3:17) And there were also walls that served for embankment purposes along terraced hillsides. (Job 24:11) These walls were of a fairly permanent nature, built of undressed field stones and sometimes set in clay or mortar.
In the Scriptures walls are sometimes mentioned in a figurative way as pictorial of protection and safety (1 Sam. 25:16; Prov. 18:11; 25:28), or as a symbol of separation. (Gen. 49:22; Ezek. 13:10) In this latter sense Paul wrote the Ephesians: “For he [Christ] is our peace, he who made the two parties one and destroyed the wall in between that fenced them off.” (Eph. 2:14) Paul was well acquainted with the middle wall in Jerusalem’s temple courtyard, which carried a warning sign to the effect that no non-Jew was to go beyond that wall under penalty of death. However, when Paul wrote to the Ephesians in 60 or 61 C.E., though he may have alluded to it in an illustrative way, he was actually not meaning that the literal wall had been abolished, for it was still standing. Rather, the apostle had in mind the Law covenant arrangement that had acted as a dividing wall between Jews and Gentiles for centuries.
On the basis of Christ’s death nearly thirty years previously, that symbolic “wall” had been abolished.
Jeremiah was told he would be like fortified walls of copper against those that opposed him. (Jer. 1:18, 19; 15:20) In another illustration, God’s people, though dwelling as in a city without literal walls, therefore seemingly defenseless, enjoy peace and security because of God’s invisible help. (Ezek. 38:11) Or from another point of view, a strong city would be one having Jehovah as a “wall of fire” (Zech. 2:4, 5), or having walls of salvation set up by Jehovah, rather than ones of mere stone and brick. (Isa. 26:1) The “holy city, New Jerusalem,” which comes down out of heaven, is said to have a “great and lofty wall” of jasper, the height of which is 144 cubits, or 210 feet (64 meters), and having twelve foundation stones consisting of precious jewels engraved with the names of the twelve apostles.—Rev. 21:2, 12, 14, 17-19.
[Heb., la·hhamʹ, to consume, devour, therefore, by extension, to fight; mil·hha·mahʹ (drawn from la·hhamʹ), fighting; tsa·vaʼʹ, to rally, gather together for military service; qa·ravʹ (verb root), to hit or touch upon, draw near, approach, hence, qeravʹ, collision or encounter, war; Gr., poʹle·mos (source of English “polemics”), fight, battle, war (at James 4:1, violent strife, wrangling, quarrel); stra·teuʹo, to serve in war, to be a soldier, to wage war].
The Bible says that Nimrod “went forth into Assyria,” which was evidently an act of aggression into the territory of Asshur the son of Shem. There Nimrod built cities. (Gen. 10:11) In Abraham’s day another king from Mesopotamia, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, subjected a number of cities (all apparently around the southern end of the Dead Sea) for a period of twelve years, forcing them to serve him. After they rebelled, Chedorlaomer and his allies warred against them, vanquishing the forces of Sodom and Gomorrah, taking their possessions and capturing Abraham’s nephew Lot and his household. At that Abraham mustered 318 trained servants and, together with his three confederates, pursued Chedorlaomer, and recovered the captives and the plunder. However, Abraham did not take any of the booty for himself. This is the first record of a war waged by a servant of God. Abraham’s warring to recover his fellow servant of Jehovah had Jehovah’s approval, for, on Abraham’s return, he was blessed by Melchizedek, priest of the Most High God.—Gen. 14:1-24.
Jehovah is “a manly person of war,” “the God of armies” and “mighty in battle.” (Ex. 15:3; 2 Sam. 5:10; Ps. 24:8, 10; Isa. 42:13) Not only has he the right as Creator and Supreme Sovereign of the universe, but he is also obligated by justice to execute or authorize execution of the lawless, to war against all obstinate ones who refuse to obey his righteous laws. Jehovah was therefore just in wiping out the wicked at the time of the Flood, in destroying Sodom and Gomorrah, and in bringing destruction upon Pharaoh’s forces.—Gen. 6:5-7, 13, 17; 19:24; Ex. 15:4, 5; compare 2 Peter 2:5-10; Jude 7.
Israel used as God’s executioner
Jehovah assigned the Israelites the sacred duty of serving as his executioners in the Promised Land to which he brought them. By victoriously directing Israel, who, prior to their deliverance from Egypt, had not known warfare (Ex. 13:17), against “seven nations more populous and mighty” than they were, God magnified his name as “Jehovah of armies, the God of the battle lines of Israel.” This proved that “neither with sword nor with spear does Jehovah save, because to Jehovah belongs the battle.” (Deut. 7:1; 1 Sam. 17:45, 47; compare 2 Chronicles 13:12.) It also furnished the Israelites the opportunity to demonstrate obedience to God’s commandments to the point of endangering their lives in God-ordained warfare.—Deut. 20:1-4.