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Cities of the Bible

The earliest mention of city-building is that of the pre-Flood city of Enoch, which was built by Cain, son of Adam (Genesis 4:17).

After the Flood and the confusion of tongues at Babel, 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. (10:12, 19; 11:3, 9; 36:31-39). The earliest description of a city is that of Sodom (19:1-22).

Damascus is said to be the oldest of the post-Flood cities still inhabited today.

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, 32,33,35; 32:1-3, 34-42; Deuteronomy 3:4,5, 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.

Fenced Cities

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).

Cities of Refuge

There were 6 cities of refuge, 3 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. See: CITIES OF REFUGE

City of David

When David destroyed the fortress of the Jebusites which stood on Mount Zion, he built on the site 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).

Holy City

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

Treasure cities

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.)

Levitical cities (list)

List of Biblical cities


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).

Things in cities

Also see

Article Version: May 10, 2019