The earliest mention of city-building is that of Enoch, which was built by Cain ( Genesis 4:17 ). After the confusion of tongues, the descendants of Nimrod founded several cities ( 10:10-12 ). Next, we have a record of the cities of the Canaanites, Sidon, Gaza, Sodom, etc. ( Genesis 10:12 Genesis 10:19 ; Genesis 11:3 Genesis 11:9 ; 36:31-39 ). The earliest description of a city is that of Sodom ( 19:1-22 ). Damascus is said to be the oldest existing city in the world. Before the time of Abraham there were cities in Egypt ( Numbers 13:22 ). The Israelites in Egypt were employed in building the "treasure cities" of Pithom and Raamses ( Exodus 1:11 ); but it does not seem that they had any cities of their own in Goshen ( Genesis 46:34 ; 47:1-11 ). In the kingdom of Og in Bashan there were sixty "great cities with walls," and twenty-three cities in Gilead partly rebuilt by the tribes on the east of Jordan ( Numbers 21:21 Numbers 21:32 Numbers 21:33 Numbers 21:35 ; Numbers 32:1-3 Numbers 32:34-42 ; Deuteronomy 3:4 Deuteronomy 3:5 Deuteronomy 3:14 ; 1 Kings 4:13 ). On the west of Jordan were thirty-one "royal cities" ( Joshua 12 ), besides many others spoken of in the history of Israel.

A fenced city was a city surrounded by fortifications and high walls, with watch-towers upon them ( 2 Chronicles 11:11 ; Deuteronomy 3:5 ). There was also within the city generally a tower to which the citizens might flee when danger threatened them ( Judges 9:46-52 ).

A city with suburbs was a city surrounded with open pasture-grounds, such as the forty-eight cities which were given to the Levites ( Numbers 35:2-7 ). There were six cities of refuge, three on each side of Jordan, namely, Kadesh, Shechem, Hebron, on the west of Jordan; and on the east, Bezer, Ramoth-gilead, and Golan. The cities on each side of the river were nearly opposite each other. The regulations concerning these cities are given in Numbers 35:9-34 ; Deuteronomy 19:1-13 ; Exodus 21:12-14 .

When David reduced the fortress of the Jebusites which stood on Mount Zion, he built on the site of it a palace and a city, which he called by his own name ( 1 Chronicles 11:5 ), the city of David. Bethlehem is also so called as being David's native town ( Luke 2:4 ).

Jerusalem is called the Holy City, the holiness of the temple being regarded as extending in some measure over the whole city ( Nehemiah 11:1 ).

Pithom and Raamses, built by the Israelites as "treasure cities," were not places where royal treasures were kept, but were fortified towns where merchants might store their goods and transact their business in safety, or cities in which munitions of war were stored. (See PITHOM .)

These dictionary topics are from
M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition,
published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain, copy freely.

Bibliography Information

Easton, Matthew George. "Entry for City". "Easton's Bible Dictionary". .