From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Towns [1]

We use the term in its general signification, so as to embrace any assemblage of inhabited human dwellings of larger size than a hamlet or a village.

The formation of towns was obviously a work of time, and they were, no doubt, originally built around a stronghold or fort, to which the inhabitants looked for protection against the incursions of enemies. In the time of the Patriarchs we find towns existing in Palestine which were originally surrounded with fortifications, so as to make them 'fenced cities.' In these dwelt the agricultural population, who by means of these places of strength defended themselves and their property from the nomad tribes of the neighboring desert, who then, as they do now, lived by plunder. Nor were works of any great strength necessary. In Palestine at the present-day, while walls are in most parts an indispensable protection, and agriculture can be advantageously prosecuted only so far as sheltered by a fortified town, erections of a very slight nature are found sufficient for the purpose, the rather because the most favorable localities offer themselves on all sides, owing to the natural inequality of the ground.

Of the ancient method of building in towns and cities we have no accurate knowledge. But the law of sameness which prevails so rigidly in Eastern countries, gives us an assurance that a modern town in Palestine may be roughly taken as a type of its ancient predecessors.

At the gates of the town, which were frequented as the court of justice, the town's market, the rendezvous for loungers, newsmongers, pleasure-seekers, there were wide open places of greater or less dimensions, where on important occasions the entire population assembled for consultation or for action (;;;;; ). The streets were not so narrow as streets generally are in modern Oriental towns. Their names were sometimes taken from the wares or goods that were sold in them: thus in , we read of 'the bakers' street.' The present bazaars seem to be a continuation of this ancient custom. The streets of Jerusalem at least were paved; but the streets of most cities of Palestine would not need paving, in consequence of the rocky nature of the foundations on which they lay. Herod the Great laid an open road in Antioch with polished stone. In regard to the earlier periods, we find only a notice to the effect that Solomon caused the forecourt of the temple to be laid with flags. Besides paved streets, Jerusalem before the exile had an extensive system of watercourses or aqueducts, which seems to have been rendered necessary by the natural supply having been limited to one or two spots in the immediate vicinity. The population of towns cannot now be ascertained with any degree of accuracy, for the materials are not only scanty and disconnected, but in a measure uncertain. Respecting the government of towns, we have no detailed information relating to the ante-exilian periods, though it was probably in the hands of the elders; and in , Moses commands, 'Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates, and they shall judge the people with just judgment.' In the post-exilian era magistrates occur under the name of Council, at whose head was a president or mayor.