To ask I need a quote

"Thus saith the Lord concerning the kind of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shields, nor cast a bank against it ... For I will defend this city to save it for mine own sake."

Isaiah 37:33, 35

quoted in "The Sign And The Seal" by Graham Hancock.

What is the meaning of the phrase 'nor cast a bank against it'? I ran some Google searches on "cast a bank" and all led me to the same paragraph. Is some kind of wall-breaking weapon or device meant here?

  • 1
    I assume the phrase means "building siegeworks". "Cast" usually means "throw" but can mean "make" or "build". I imagine Mesopotamian sieges involved building earth ramps against the city's walls, as described and illustrated here (but not very clearly). Commented Nov 11, 2017 at 13:09
  • See also "The Assyrian Siege Ramp at Lachish: Military and Lexical Aspects" by Israel Eph'al, in Journal of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University, Volume 11, 1984 - Issue 1 (tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1179/…) if you can. Commented Nov 11, 2017 at 13:53
  • Only two occurrences of "make a bank" usage found on the Internet are nevertheless backups your idea. One of them is (to me more convincing) "In the same paragraph, the owner has to make a bank against the river from the Gage to a close called West Croft and it is to be 20ft in breadth and 'sufficient in height" Commented Nov 11, 2017 at 13:57

1 Answer 1


"cast a bank" means to build a ramp.

This is the archaic meaning of "cast" as in item 1, subitem 9 here:

(archaic) To throw up, as a mound, or rampart.

  • Bible, Luke xix.48

    Thine enemies shall cast a trench [bank] about thee.

And the meaning of "bank" as in a bank of something, as in item 2 here:

A long, high mass or mound of a particular substance.

‘a grassy bank’
‘a bank of snow’

Finally, this interpretation of the quote is confirmed by other versions (translations) of this specific biblical passage:

  • He will not enter this city or shoot an arrow here. He will not come before it with shield or build a siege ramp against it.

    -- New International Version (emphasis mine)

  • propterea haec dicit Dominus de rege Assyriorum non introibit civitatem hanc et non iaciet ibi sagittam et non occupabit eam clypeus et non mittet in circuitu eius aggerem

    -- Vulgate Latin version (emphasis mine; mittet is a form of mitto, roughly meaning to extend, and aggerem is a form of agger, meaning a rampart or dyke)

  • Thank you very much for the answer and for the link to the dictionary en.wiktionary.org. I'm obsessed with having many dictionaries and looking difficult words in all of them. Commented Nov 12, 2017 at 20:57
  • @VladimirZolotykh Wiktionary has a lot of different words, in many languages. One caveat though: like Wikipedia, it's user-editable, so it may not always be as reliable as, say, Oxford Dictionaries.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Nov 12, 2017 at 21:09

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