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A look at Castles

In accordance with one of the missions of this website we will look at an English word that is not necessarily an issue within various King James Bibles, but is forsaken by all other versions to the detriment of our language and culture. At issue is the word "castles".

These are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names, by their towns, and by their castles; twelve princes according to their nations, Genesis 25:16.

Bible commentators have been bumming out over that word for some time. What troubles them is that they envisage a Disney type castle with stone walls, towers and flags fluttering. They see no justification for such buildings within the Hebrew. Instead, modern versions generally translate the word as "encampments" or "camps". What they miss is that "castle" is a legal designation in this verse.

The key to the verse is that Ishmael's twelve sons are called princes. Our King James translators have gone another step in telling us that their individual dwellings had an independent and autonomous legal standing. That is what "castle" indicated in the common law. There was a time in America when Christians upheld the principals of the bible in civic life to the benefit of all. They could do this because they were educated up to the standards of a King James Bible. Today we dumb down our bibles to the standards of the street and then wonder why our freedoms are eroding.

When the Normans conquered England in the 11th century, their hold on the various counties was often tentative. They developed a martial strategy in which they would build a central fortress in an area and a Norman knight endowed with that particular tract of land could defend it and live as the lord of the land. It is from this arrangement that we get our term "landlord", or in other words, the legal owner of a property who subsequently rents out the right of habitation, or some other right to the property without giving up ownership. The feudal tenants who occupied the lands around the castle did not own their land. To one degree or another they owed rents or fees to the owner of the castle.

In subsequent centuries the king who occupied the role of a centralized government over England was often powerless to enforce his edicts in remote parts of the country, or even more threatening to the king, he could not collect taxes if a castle was too remote or too strong. At such times a king could (and often did) raise his flag outside of a castle as a declaration of war against that castle. Just what the king's rights were, and just what the owner of the castle's rights were was often settled by armed conflict. Magna Carta, or the Great Charter settled much of that dispute.

According to the great charter, a king could not enter a castle without the owner of the castle's permission. A castle by definition was a homestead owned without any fees owed to any lord. In the 11th through the 15th centuries only the most wealthy and powerful of England owned their own homes with such outright freedom. Accordingly, these homes were usually grand affairs with walls, moats and battlements. If a king wanted to enter, he needed to get permission. If he could not get permission, then Magna Carta instructed the king to formally declare a state of war so that everyone knew where they stood.

In the 17th century there was court case in which a humble peasant shot and killed the local sheriff who barged into his house to arrest him. The peasant was subsequently hauled off to jail. Everyone expected him to be declared guilty which would have resulted in him being hung. His barrister saw it differently. The lawyer argued to the judge that even though his client lived in a very humble cottage, he owned the cottage outright. His home was by law a castle and the protections of Magna Carta applied to that little cottage as much as any large castle in England.

The English judiciary agreed and issued the ruling that, even if a man lived in a humble cottage, his home was his castle where even the king may not enter without permission. It was agreed that the sheriff had entered illegally, and that the homeowner had every legal right to scramble his brains with a blunderbuss. Today if a law enforcement agency wants to enter a house in which they cannot get permission, that agency has to go to a judge and ask for a declaration of war (search warrant) against that home.

The King James Bible got it exactly right when they said that Ismael's sons lived in castles. A proper study in the exact terms used in a King James Bible will do more to educate English speaking people of their respective rights and duties than all of the current organizations wringing their hands over the cultural and legal abyss we have today. The same organizations that want to teach us are all too often the same ones that give us the dumbed down versions.

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