Sunday, April 29, 2012

Did Crusader knights pray this psalm too?

Up north, on the Jordan River, north of the Sea of Galilee, are the remains of a Crusader castle with an amazing, gruesome history.
The fortress at Vadum Iacov or Jacob's Ford, now known in Hebrew as Ateret, was attacked and razed and burned by Saladin and his army in August 1179.
Some 700 of the defeated Knights Templar were taken prisoner, but the other 800 Christian defenders were massacred.

Their bodies, together with their dead horses, were thrown into a deep well.
The Muslims then made the vaulted roof collapse over the corpses, and the well remained sealed for the next 800 years . . . until Israeli archaeologists re-discovered Vadum Jacob / Ateret fortress.

From 1999 to 2007 geoarchaeology was done at the scene.
Why also geologists?
It was a first-ever opportunity to excavate along the line of a major geological fault.
Sections of the castle's 50-meter-long walls were torn apart by a powerful earthquake in 1202 (and perhaps even more in the 1759 quake).
I was in awe seeing the crack (in the photo below)!

The Hebrew University's website about the research project has several short video clips that show the grizzly story of the battle, as well as what they found at the site.
If nothing else, please watch this one especially:

Can we imagine the Crusaders, while under siege of the Muslims for four fateful days, praying Psalm 60?

That is our psalm for this Sunday's PsalmChallenge, led by Robert in Athens.

For the choir director; according to Shushan Eduth. A Mikhtam of David, to teach; when he struggled with Aram-naharaim and with Aram-zobah, and Joab returned, and smote twelve thousand of Edom in the Valley of Salt.

1 O God, You have rejected us. You have broken us;
You have been angry; O, restore us.

2 You have made the land quake, You have split it open;
Heal its breaches, for it totters.
3 You have made Your people experience hardship;
You have given us wine to drink that makes us stagger.
4 You have given a banner to those who fear You,
That it may be displayed because of the truth.

5 That Your beloved may be delivered,
Save with Your right hand, and answer us!

6 God has spoken in His holiness:
“I will exult, I will portion out Shechem and measure out the valley of Succoth.
7 “Gilead is Mine, and Manasseh is Mine;
Ephraim also is the helmet of My head;
Judah is My scepter.
8 “Moab is My washbowl;
Over Edom I shall throw My shoe;
Shout loud, O Philistia, because of Me!”

9 Who will bring me into the fortified city?
Who will lead me to Edom?
10 Have not You Yourself, O God, rejected us?
And will You not go forth with our armies, O God?
11 O give us help against the adversary,
For deliverance by man is in vain.
12 Through God we shall do valiantly,
And it is He who will tread down our adversaries.
P.S. Wikipedia calls the fortification Chastellet and gives its take on the Battle of Jacob's Ford.


Spiderdama said...

Perfect pictures to show this difficult psalm.
Hope you have a happy week ahead:-)

NixBlog said...

Great post, Dina. Your photos illustrate this psalm well.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for your effort and kindness to participate. Yes, thoughtful your questions are; I shall invest a bit of time upon it. Thank you.
Please have a good start into the new week.

Robin said...

What an incredible story. I'll definitely check out those links!

Travelogue for the Universe said...

Your history and Psalms lesson is very much appreciated. When the knights prayed, they prayed with no fear. Have a great day! mary

VP said...

Old fortresses are always full of history...

Reader Wil said...

You have chosen the best photos for this psalm.

Terra said...

This was a dark and dramatic event; the Psalms are pages I turn to often. Thanks for this post.

mirae said...

beautiful Dina, thanks for sharing this history with us.a startling juxtaposition of the psalm and the dig.
this part of the psalm-I will portion out shechem-reminds me of James Joyce's Finnegan's wake where the giant represents different parts of Dublin.I don't know if this is one of Joyce's references I wouldnt doubt it. Joyce has so many threads running through each line of his text I wouldnt doubt that it is and if it isnt well it should be and could be to add to the universality of his neverending neverbeginning work...