(מצוּרָה, metsurah', intrenched; 2Ch 11:10,23; 2Ch 12:4; 2Ch 14:6; 2Ch 21:3; rendered "stronghold," 2Ch 11:11; "fort," Isa 29:3; "munition," 2:1. מַבצָר, mibtsar', fortress, is also sometimes rendered "fenced" in connection with עִיר, a city, Nu 32:17,36; Jos 10:20; Jos 19:35; 1Sa 6:18; 2Ki 3:19; 2Ki 10:2; 2Ki 17:9; 2Ki 18:8; 2Ch 17:19; Jer 5:17; Da 11:15; elsewhere "stronghold," etc.). The broad distinction between a city and a village in Biblical language consisted in the possession of walls. SEE CITY. The city had walls, the village was unwalled, or had only a watchman's tower (מַגדָּל, πύργος, turris custodun; comp. Gesen. Thes. p. 267), to which the villagers resorted in times of danger. A threefold distinction is thus obtained: 1. cities; 2. unwalled villages; 3. villages with castles or towers (1Ch 27:25). The district east of the Jordan, forming the kingdoms of Moab and Bashan, is said to have abounded from very early times in castles and fortresses, such. as were built by Uzziah to protect the cattle, and to repel the inroads of the neighboring tribes, besides unwalled towns (Ammian. Marc. 14:9; De 3:5; 2Ch 26:10). Of these many remains are thought by Mr. Porter to exist at the present day (Damascus, ii, 197)., The dangers to which unwalled villages are exposed from the marauding tribes of the desert, and also the fortifications by which the inhabitants sometimes protect themselves, are illustrated by Sir J. Malcolm (Sketches of Persia, c. 14:p. 148) and Frazer (Persia, p. 379, 380; comp. Judges v, 7). Villages in the Hauran are sometimes enclosed by a wall, or, rather, the houses, being joined together, form a defence against Arab robbers, and the entrance is closed by a gate (Burckhardt, Syria, p. 212). SEE GATE.
A further characteristic of a city as a fortified place is found in the use of the word בָּנָה, build, and also fortif/; so that to "build" a city appears to be sometimes the same thing as to fortify it (comp. Ge 8:20, and 2Ch 16:6, with 2Ch 11:5-10, and 1Ki 15:17). SEE WALL.
The fortifications of the cities of Palestine, thus regularly "fenced," consisted of one or more walls crowned with battlemented parapets, פַּנּוֹת, 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 (2Ch 26:9,15; Jg 9:45; 2Ki 9:17). Along the oldest of the three walls of Jerusalem there were ninety towers, in the second fourteen, and in the third sixty (Josephus, War, v, 4, 2). One such tower, that of Hananeel, is repeatedly mentioned (Jer 31:38; Zec 14:10), as also others (Nehemiah iii, 1, 11, 27). The gateways of fortified towns were also fortified and closed with strong doors (Ne 2:8; Ne 3:3,6, etc.; Jg 16:2-3; 1Sa 23:7; 2Sa 18:24,33; 2Ch 14:7; 2Ch 1 Macc. 13:33; 15:39). In advance of the wall there appears to have been sometimes an outwork (חֵיל, προτείχισμα), in A. Vers. "ditch" (1Ki 21:23; 2Sa 20:15; Gesenius, Thes. p.
454), which was perhaps either a palisade or wall lining the ditch, or a wall raised midway within the ditch itself. Both of these methods of strengthening fortified places, by hindering the near approach of machines, were usual in earlier Egyptian fortifications (Wilkinson, Anc Eg. i, 401), but would generally be of less use in the hill forts of Palestine than in Egypt. In many towns there was a keep or citadel for a last resource to the defenders. Those remaining in the Hauran and Leja are square. Such existed at Shechem and Thebez (Jg 9:46,51; Jg 8:17; 2Ki 9:17), and the great forts or towers of Psephinus, Hippicus, and especially Antonia, served a similar purpose, as well as that of overawing the town at Jerusalem. These forts were well furnished with cisterns (Acts, 21:34; 2 Macc. 5:25; Josephus, Ant. 18:4, 3; War, i, 5, 4; v, 4, 2; 6:2, 1). At the time of thee entrance of Israel into Canaae- there were many fenced cities existing, which first caused great alarm to the exploring party of searchers (Nu 13:28), and afterwards gave much trouble to the people in subduing them. Many of these were refortified, or, as it is expressed rebuilt by the Hebrews (Nu 32:17,34-42; De 3:4-5; Jos 11:12-13; Jg 1:27-33), and many, especially those on the sea-coast, remained for a long time in the possession of their inhabitants, who c-re enabled to preserve them by means of their strength in chariots (Jos 13:3,6; Jos 17:16; Jg 1:19; 2Ki 18:8; 2Ch 26:6). The strength of Jerusalem was shown by the fact that that city, or at least the citadel, or "stronghold of Zion," remained in the possession of the Jebusites until the time of David (2Sa 5:6-7; 2Sa 1 (Chronicles 11:5). Among the kings of Israel and Judah several are mentioned as fortifiers or " builders" of cities, e.g. Solomon (1Ki 9:17-19; 2Ch 8:4-6), Jeroboam I (1Ki 12:25), Rehoboam (2Ch 11:5,12), Baasha (1Ki 15:17), Omri (1Ki 16:24), Hezekiah (2Ch 32:5), Asa ( 2Ch 14:6-7), Jeaoshaphat (2Ch 17:12), but especially Uzziah (2Ki 14:22; 2Ch 26:2,9,15); and in the reign of Ahab the town: of Jericho was rebuilt and fortified by a private individual, Hiel of Bethel (1Ki 16:34). Herod the Great was conspicuous in fortifying strong positions, as Masada, Machaerus, Herodium, besides his great works at Jerusalem (Josephus, War, 7:6,1, 2; 8, 3; i, 21, 10; Ant. 14:13, 9). SEE FORT.
But the fortified places of Palestine served only in a few instances to check effectually the progress of an invading force, though many instances of determined and protracted resistance are on record, as of Samaria for three years (2Ki 18:10), Jerusalem (2Ki 25:3) for four months, and in later times of Jotapata, Gamala, Machaerus, Masada, and, above all, Jerusalem itself, the strength of whose defences drew forth the admiration of the conqueror Titus (Josephus, War, iii, 6; 4:1 and 9; 7:6, 2-4 and 8; Robinson, i, 232). SEE FORTRESS.
The earlier Egyptian fortifications consisted usually of a quadrangular and sometimes double wall of -sun-dried brick, fifteen feet thick, and often fifty feet in height, with square towers at intervals, of the same height as the walls, both crowned with a parapet, and a round-headed battlement in shape like a shield. A second lower wall with towers at the entrance was added, distant thirteen or twenty feet from the main wall, and sometimes another was made of seventy or one hundred feet in length, projecting at right angles from the main wall, to enable the defenders to annoy the assailants in flank. The ditch was sometimes fortified by a sort of tenaille in the ditch itself, or a ravelin on its edge. In later times the practice of fortifying towns was laid aside, and the large temples, with their enclosures, were made to serve the purpose of forts (Wilkinson, As-c. Egypt. i, 408, 409, abridgm.).
The fortifications of Nineveh, Babylon, Ecbatana, and of Tyre and Sidon are all mentioned either in the canonical books or the Apocrypha. In the sculptures of Nineveh representations are found of walled towns, of which one is thought to represent Tyre, and all illustrate the mode of fortification adopted both by the Assyrians and their enemies, (Jer 51:30-32,58; Am 1:10; Zec 9:3; Eze 27:11; Na 3:14; Tobit 4:17; 14:14, 15; Judith 1:1, 4; Layard, Nin. ii, 275, 279, 388, 395; Nin. and Bab. p. 231, 358; Mon. of Nin. pt. ii, pl. 39, 43). SEE FORTIFICATION.