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Reference: Fenced Cities


There were in Palestine (1) cities, (2) unwalled villages, and (3) villages with castles or towers (1Ch 27:25). Cities, so called, had walls, and were thus fenced. The fortifications consisted of one or two walls, on which were towers or parapets at regular intervals (2Ch 32:5; Jer 31:38). Around ancient Jerusalem were three walls, on one of which were ninety towers, on the second fourteen, and on the third sixty. The tower of Hananeel, near the north-east corner of the city wall, is frequently referred to (Ne 3:1; 12:39; Zec 14:10). The gateways of such cities were also fortified (Ne 2:8; 3:3,6; Jg 16:2-3; 1Sa 23:7).

The Hebrews found many fenced cities when they entered the Promised Land (Nu 13:28; 32:17,34-42; Jos 11:12-13; Jg 1:27-33), and we may estimate the strength of some of these cities from the fact that they were long held in possession by the Canaanites. The Jebusites, e.g., were enabled to hold possession of Jerusalem till the time of David (2Sa 5:6-7; 1Ch 11:5).

Several of the kings of Israel and Judah distinguished themselves as fortifiers or "builders" of cities.

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The distinction between a "city" and a "village" in the Bible is, the former had walls. The village had sometimes a watchman's tower, where the villagers repaired when in danger. Such towers Uzziah built in the desert for the protection of husbandmen and cattle from marauding tribes (2Ch 26:10). David too had "castles" (1Ch 27:25). Argob in Bashan, Og's kingdom, E. of Jordan, had "three-score cities fenced with high walls, gates and bars, beside unwalled towns a great many" (De 3:4-5); all which Israel took. (See ARGOB.) Villages in the Hauran sometimes consist of houses joined together and the entrance closed by a gate for security against Arab marauders.

Build often means "fortify" (2Ch 11:5-10; 16:6; 1Ki 15:17). The defenses consisted of one or more walls with battlemented parapets and towers at intervals (2Ch 32:5; Jer 31:38), whereon were war engines, also a citadel or tower, the last resource of the defenders (Jg 9:46,51; 2Ki 9:17; 2Ch 26:9,15). Ninety towers crowned the oldest of Jerusalem's three walls, fourteen the second, sixty the third (B. J., 5:4, section 2). The tower of Hananeel is mentioned Jer 31:38; Zec 14:10; Ne 3:1, where also is mentioned "the tower of Meah," "the tower of the furnaces" (Ne 3:11), "the great tower that lieth out even unto the wall of Ophel" (Ne 3:27). An out-work is meant by the "ditch" or "trench," possibly a wall lining the ditch (1Ki 21:23; 2Sa 20:15).

The castle of Antonia was the citadel of Jerusalem in our Lord's time; it served also to overawe the town, the Roman soldiers occupying it (Ac 21:34). Canaan's "cities fenced up to heaven" were leading causes of the spies' and Israel's unbelieving panic (Nu 13:28; De 1:28; 9:1-2). These the Israelites "rebuilt," i.e. refortified (Nu 32:17,34-42). So fenced was "the stronghold of Zion" that it remained in the Jebusites' hands until David's time (2Sa 5:6-7). Samaria yielded to the mighty hosts of Assyria only after a three years' siege (2Ki 17:5; 18:10).

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Fenced cities,

i.e. cities fortified or defended. The fortifications of the cities of Palestine, thus regularly "fenced," consisted of one or more walls (sometimes of thick stones, sometimes of combustible material), crowned with battlemented parapets, having towers at regular intervals,

2Ch 32:5; Jer 31:38

on which in later times engines of war were placed, and watch was kept by day and night in time of war.

Jg 9:45; 2Ki 9:17; 2Ch 26:9,15

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