WHAT IS A “BATTLEMENT?”
by Shawn Brasseaux
We find the word only twice in our King James Old Testament, each with a slightly different meaning.
Here is the first verse, Deuteronomy 22:8: “When thou buildest a new house, then thou shalt make a battlement for thy roof, that thou bring not blood upon thine house, if any man fall from thence.” Also called a parapet, a “battlement” in this sense is just a railing, a low retaining wall used to prevent people from falling from the rooftop. In Hebrew, it is “ma’aqe,” meaning “hold back.” The LORD God did not want innocent blood to be shed in His land!
Now, the second instance, Jeremiah 5:10: “Go ye up upon her walls, and destroy; but make not a full end: take away her battlements; for they are not the LORD’S.” Here, this second sense, “battlements” are for protection (specifically, for the city of Jerusalem; cf. verse 1). They are small barriers atop castle rooftops or city walls, used to defend the structure by way of regularly-spaced gaps through which weapons and projectiles could be fired (see Figure 1 below). As the Prophet Jeremiah sees it, the Babylonians are coming to attack idolatrous Jerusalem!