I’ve tried to picture what this must have looked like or how the people must have felt within the city. Surely they felt safe from any danger from outside their walls. But I wonder what it would feel like to live in a city that needed to be protected by a great wall.
It leads me to another wall, The Great Wall of China. It too, was considered one of the great wonders of the world. This one is described as being like a gigantic dragon snaking nearly 13,200 miles, east to west across China.1 Like the walls of Babylon, there is little left but ruins in sand piles instead of the architectual wonder it once was.
Like the Babylonian wall, the Great Wall of China was built to stop invasions from would be enemies. But in later years it was an effective way of keeping people from leaving China, as well. Babylon and China aren’t the only countries or great cities that chose to build walls for protection. Denmark, Korea and even Athens all had walls on their borders at least for a time, and primarily for defense. 2
Jerusalem is another place which possesses walls. Much of these walls still stand but were built for the same reason as the others: to prevent invasions. The city walls in Jerusalem has gates which offer entry and exit and at first are a little intimidating! But once inside, the aura of the area is changed from anxiety to pure amazement, especially within the Old City where old traditions still thrive. (The picture included is a model of Jerusalem from 66 BC)
When I think of “walls” in general I tend to relate mostly to my home, where the walls around me, and closed doors offer safety, much like the city walls. But when I think of “city walls” it occurs to me they were built to protect all the people inside not just a single family. But the other side to that is like what happened in China where it became a form of prison for the people who wanted to leave and couldn’t.
Sometimes people do the very same thing only the wall is not a literal brick encasement. It’s an invisible wall which thickens as people get hurt or deal with fear. There are those who choose to shut other people out because relationships frighten them. Usually that’s because they have had a bad experience and were hurt so they believe if they put up some kind of wall or shield around them, pain can’t get through. Sadly, that is far from the truth. It provides the means for another kind of pain. A self-inflicted pain of lonliness, fear, suspicion and sadness which is even worse than being hurt by someone else.
We are a people made to share with each other. So challenge you this week, to be willing to open your heart to another person. Free yourself from your personal prison and let any walls you’ve built to shut out people be broken down so others can see the wonderful person you are!