City in Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Cain first founded one (Genesis 4:16-17). The material civilization of the Cainite race was superior to that of the Sethite. To the former belonged many inventions of useful arts and luxury (Genesis 4:20-22). Real refinement and moral civilization are by no means necessary concomitants of material civilization; in these the Sethites took the lead (Genesis 4:25-26). The distinction between tent or nomadic and town life early began. The root meaning of the Hebrew terms for "city," 'ar or 'ir (from 'ur "to keep watch"), and kirat (from qarah "to approach as an enemy," Genesis 23:2) implies that a leading object of gathering into towns was security against marauders. So, "the tower of Edar," i.e. flocks (Genesis 35:21). Of course, the first "cities" would be mere groups of rude dwellings, fenced round together. Sir H. Rawlinson supposes Rehoboth, Calah, etc., in Genesis 10:11, denote only sites of buildings afterward erected. The later dates assigned to the building of Nineveh, Babylon, etc., refer to their being rebuilt on a larger scale on the sites of the primitive towns. Unwalled towns are the symbol of peace and security (Zechariah 2:4). Special cities furnished supplies for the king's service (1 Kings 9:19; 1 Kings 4:7; 1 Chronicles 27:25; 2 Chronicles 17:12). So, our Lord represents the different servants having the number of cities assigned them in proportion to their faithfulness (Luke 19:17; Luke 19:19). Forty-eight cities were assigned to the Levites, of which 13 were for the family of Aaron, nine were in Judah, four were in Benjamin, and six were cities of refuge. The streets of eastern cities are generally narrow, seldom allowing more than two loaded camels to pass one another. But Nineveh's admitted of chariots passing, and had large parks and gardens within (Nahum 2:4). Those of one trade generally lived on the same street (Jeremiah 37:21). The GATES are the usual place of assembly, and there courts of judges and kings are held (Genesis 23:10; Rth 4:1).

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