The earliest mention of city-building is that of Enoch, which
was built by Cain (Gen. 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. (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 existing city in the world. Before the
time of Abraham there were cities in Egypt (Num. 13:22). The
Israelites in Egypt were employed in building the "treasure
cities" of Pithom and Raamses (Ex. 1:11); but it does not seem
that they had any cities of their own in Goshen (Gen. 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 (Num. 21:21, 32, 33,
35; 32:1-3, 34-42; Deut. 3:4, 5, 14; 1 Kings 4:13). On the west
of Jordan were thirty-one "royal cities" (Josh. 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 Chr. 11:11; Deut. 3:5).
There was also within the city generally a tower to which the
citizens might flee when danger threatened them (Judg. 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 (Num. 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 Num. 35:9-34; Deut. 19:1-13; Ex. 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 Chr. 11:5), the city of
David. Bethlehem is also so called as being David's native town
Jerusalem is called the Holy City, the holiness of the temple
being regarded as extending in some measure over the whole city
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 T0002968.)