Ram, Battering

Ram, Battering (כּר; Sept. βελόστασις χάραξ; Vulg. aries). This instrument of ancient siege operations is twice mentioned in the Old Test. (Eze 4:2; Eze 21:22 [27]); and as both references are to the battering-rams in use among the Assyrians and Babylonians, it will only be necessary to describe those which are known from the monuments to have been employed in their sieges. With regard to the meaning of the Hebrew word there is but little doubt. It denotes an engine of war which was called a ram, either because it had an iron head shaped like that of a ram, or because, when used for battering down a wall, the movement was like the butting action of a ram In attacking the walls of a fort or city, the first step appears to have been to form an inclined plane or bank of earth (comp. Ezekiel 4:2 — "cast a mount against it"), by which the besiegers could bring their battering-rams and other engines to the foot of the walls. "The battering-rams,'' says Mr. Layard, "were of several kinds. Some were joined to movable towers which held warriors and armed men. The whole then formed one great temporary building, the top of which is represented in sculptures as on a level with the walls, and even turrets, of the besieged city. In some bas- reliefs the battering-ram is without wheels; it was then, perhaps, constructed upon the spot, and was not intended to be moved. The movable tower was probably sometimes unprovided with the ram, but I have not met with it so represented in the sculptures When the machine containing the battering-ram was a simple framework and did not form an artificial tower, a cloth or some kind of drapery, edged with fringes and otherwise or- namented, appears to have been occasionally thrown over it. Sometimes it may have been covered with hides. It moved either on four or on six wheels, and was provided with one ram or with two. The mode of working the rams cannot be determined from the Assyrian sculptures. It may be presumed, from the representations in the bas-reliefs, that they were partly suspended by a rope fastened to the outside of the ma- chine, and that men directed and impelled them from within. Such was the plan adopted by the Egyptians in whose paintings the warriors working the ram may be seen through the frame. Sometimes this engine was ornamented by a carved or painted figure of the presiding divinity kneeling on one knee and drawing a bow. The artificial tower was usually occupied by two warriors: one discharged his arrows against the besieged, whom he was able, from his lofty position, to harass more effectually than if he had been below; the other held up a shield for his companion's defence. Warriors are not unfrequently represented as stepping from the machine to the battlements Archers on the walls hurled stones from slings and discharged their arrows against the warriors in the artificial towers; while the rest of the besieged were no less active in endeavoring to frustrate the attempts of the assailants to make breaches in their walls. By dropping a double chain or rope from the battlements they caught the ram, and could either destroy its efficacy altogether, or break the force of its blows. Those below, however, by placing hooks over the engine and throwing their whole weight upon them, struggled to retain it in its place. The besieged, if unable to displace the battering-ram, sought to destroy it by fire, and threw lighted torches or firebrands upon it; but water was poured upon the flames through pipes attached to the artificial tower" (Nineveh and its Remains, ii, 367-370). SEE BATTERING-RAM.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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