(מצָד, metsad', Isa 23:16; usually rendered " stronghold"), a fortress on a rocky eminence, such as those-to which David resorted for safety from Saul (1Sa 23:14); especially a "castle" or acropolis, as of Mount Zion (1Ch 11:7). SEE FORT. In ancient times every city was located upon a naturally strong position, SEE CITY; SEE HILL, and served itself for a stronghold (עַיר בּצוּרָה, עַיר הִמַּבצָר); yet in the period before ;he exile among the Hebrews particular strategic points, especially on the frontier and in low and level tracts, were more strongly and systematically fortified (1Ki 15:17,22; 2Ch 8:3; 2Ch 11:5 sq.; 14:6 sq.; 26:6; 27:4), in anticipation of sieges (2Ch 17:2), which, by reason of the more strenuous warfare, still oftener took place in post-exilian times (see 1 Macc. 4:61; 12:35; 13:30; 14:33 sq. [15:39]), when the residences of Palestine were distributed in citadels, walled towns, and open villages. First of all, strongholds were surrounded by one or more (2Ch 32:5) walls (חוֹמָה), which were sometimes very thick (Jer 51:58), and were furnished with battlements (פַּנּוֹת, 2Ch 26:15; Zep 1:16; or שׁמָשׁוֹה, Isa 54:12), parapet, and towers (מַגדָּלַים, 2Ch 14:7; 2Ch 32:5; 2Ch 1 Macc. 5:65; comp. Eze 26:4; Eze 27:11; Jer 51:12; Zep 2:14; Judith 1:3), and were closed by powerful (in Babylon iron-bound, Isa 45:2; Herod. 1:179) and strictly guarded (1Ki 4:13) gates (q.v.). Over these last were placed watch-towers (2Sa 13:34; 2Sa 18:24,33; 2Ki 9:17; 2Ch 26:9; comp. Homer, II. 3:145, 154). See, generally, 2Ch 14:7. Around the wall lay the חֵיל (2Sa 20:15; Isa 26:1; Na 3:8; 1Ki 21:23), apparently a moat with a rampart, but according to Kimchi a small outer wall (בִּי שׁוּרָה). SEE TRENCH. There were also watch-towers and forts (בַּירָנַיּוֹת) in the open field (2Ki 18:8; 2Ch 27:4), as well as castles in and at the cities for a final refuge (Jg 9:51 sq.). The most important fortress of Palestine in all ancient times was Jerusalem (q.v.). Other strong castles, especially for the protection of the borders, were, in the closing period of Jewish history, Alexandrium (Josephus, Ant.
13:16, 3), Machaerus, Masada, Hyrcania (comp. Josephus, Ant. 13:16), Herodium (ib. 15:9, 4; War, 1:21, 10), etc. They were usually located on hills (Ant. 14:6, 2). Caves and chasms in rocks were the first natural fastnesses (Jg 9:2). SEE CAVE.
The reduction (comp. צור, נצר) of strong places, to which the inhabitants retreated on the invasion of an enemy (Jer 8:14), began, after a demand to capitulate (De 20:10; comp. 2Ki 18:17 sq.), with the demarcation of a line of circumvolution (בָּנָה מָצוֹר, Ec 9:14; בָּנָה דָיֵק, 2Ki 25:1; Jer 6:6; Jer 52:4; Eze 4:2; Eze 17:17, etc.), and throwing up a bank (שׁ4פִך סוֹללָה, 2Sa 20:15; 2Ki 19:32; Isa 27:13; Hab 1:10; Jer 6:6; Eze 4:2; Eze 17:17; Eze 26:8; Eze 1 Macc. 11:20; 13:43; comp. Josephus, Ant. 13:10, 2), and next proceeded by the employment of beleaguering engines (μηχαναί, 1 Mace. 11:20, i.e., battering-rams, כָּרַים, Eze 4:2; Eze 21:27; comp. Josephus, War, 3:9; Vitruv. 10:19). with which a breach was effected (Eze 21:27. A description of the customary Roman machine obsidionales, which Titus used-but for a long time in vain-ins the siege of Jerusalem [Josephus, War, 5:6, 2 sq.; 9, 2; 6:2, 3, etc.], is given by Ammian. Marcel. 23:4. On the Roman aries especially, see Josephus, War, 3:7, 19). A simpler operation was to set the fort on fire, and thus destroy at once both it and the besieged (Jg 9:49). As an example of undermining the walls, Jer 51:58 is adduced only by a gloss in the Sept. and Vulg.; in later times this process becomes clearer (Josephus. War, 2:17, 8; comp. Dio Cass. 69, 12; Veget. Mil. 4:24). The demolition of the aqueducts is once mentioned (Judith 7:6). For defence the besieged were accustomed not only to shoot darts from the walls (2Sa 11:24), but also to hurl large stones and beams (Jg 9:53; 2Sa 11:21; Josephus War, 5:3, 3; 6, 3), and even to pour down boiling oil (Josephus, War, 3:7, 28); in later times they used slinging- machines (חַשַּׁבֹנוֹת, 2Ch 26:15; Dio Cass. 66:41). Also by skilfully. managed sorties, which were disguised by mines (Josephus, Ant. 14:16, 2; War, 5:11, 4, etc.), they strove (especially by burning the siege- works) to break the siege (1 Macc. 6:3; Josephus, War, 5:6, 6; 11, 5; 6;, 6, 4), and for this purpose they watched the enemy by sentinels posted on the walls (Josephus, War, 5:2, 5). The Israelites were enjoined to spare fruit- trees when they laid siege to a city (De 20:19 sq.; yet see 2Ki 3:25; comp. Michaelis, A Mos. Recht, 1:378 sq.). The beleaguering of strongholds was sometimes carried on for a long time (so Hyrcanus was able to reduce Samaria only after an investment of a whole year, Josephus, Ant. 13:10, 3), and brought upon the besieged (even when they had provisioned themselves beforehand, 1 Macc. 13:3) so severe a famine (2Ki 6:25 sq.; 1 Macc. 6:53 sq. — but of a lack of water in besieged places there is seldom any mention [see Josephus, War, 3:7, 12; Ant. 14:14, 6], probably owing to the copious cisterns usually at hand) that they were often obliged to resort to very unusual (comp. Judith 11:11) and even nauseous means of subsistence (2Ki 6:25,29; 2Ki 18:27; La 4:10; Josephus, Ant. 13:10, 2; War, 5:10, 3; 13, 7; 6:3, 3; comp. Barhebr. Chronicles pages 149, 488). But the garrison sometimes contrived ingeniously to conceal from the besiegers the food and provisions brought into the city (Josephus, War, 3:7,12). Obstinate fortresses were taken by storm (comp. 1 Mace. 5:51), and the houses were razed to the ground (Jg 9:45; Jg 1 Macc. 5:52; Josephus, Ant. 13:10, 3. Occasionally the plough was passed over the site of a captured town laid in ashes, Horace, Od. 1:16, 21; Senec. Clement. 1:26; but Mic 3:12 has no such allusion), the inhabitants massacred, manacled, and reduced to slavery (Jg 1:25; Jg 1 Macc. 5:52; comp. 2 Macc. 5:13 sq.; 10:17, 23). SEE SIEGE. On the other hand, the enemy usually spared such places as surrendered (1 Macc. 13:43 sq.). Citadels which had never been captured were called in Oriental phrase virgins (see Gesenius, Jesa. 1:736). SEE FORTIFICATION.